CIVIL DEFENSE: The definition of civil defense has evolved over the period from World War I to the present, an evolution that has reflected both differences in threats and differences in intent.  The range covers from purely population protection against nuclear attack to national mobilization of the civilian population for any of a wide range of wartime roles from increased productivity to loyalty enforcement.

By international convention, the Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts, civil defense is defined as the performance of humanitarian tasks to protect the population from the impacts of war or disaster, to assist in recovery from immediate effects of either, and to provide for population survival.  Civil defense tasks may include:

The United States Congress defined civil defense in 1956 in a far broader context as including:

Sources: United Nations, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts, Diplomatic Conference on the Reaffirmation and Development of International Humanitarian Law applicable in Armed Conflicts, location http://www.unhchr.ch.html/menu3/b/93.htm, 8 June 1977.  Mitchell, Donald W., Civil Defense: Planning for Survival and Recovery, Washington, District of Columbia, United States of America, Industrial College of the Armed Forces, U. S. Government Printing Office, 1967.

Entry 0264 - updated 16 August 2003