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A civilian is a person who is not a member of a military. Under the Fourth Geneva Convention it is a war crime to deliberately attack a non-combatant civilian or wantonly and unnecessarily destroy or take the property of a civilian.

However, civilian property may be destroyed in pursuit of a military objective; civilian property may be seized for military use; and collateral damage is an accepted part of war.

In practice, the neat division between combatants and non-combatants implicit in such treaties can get very blurry, particularly in guerilla warfare[?] where the guerillas receive the support of the local population. It is sometimes argued that the division between civilian and military and the abhorrence towards attacks on civilians is a reflection of Western attitudes to war, and that other societies do not make such distinctions but find other aspects of Western-style warfare abhorrent (such as strategic bombing).

See also: Laws of war, combatant.

A civilian is also the name given to a jurist or jurisdiction of the civil law as in civilian jurisdiction.

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