Towards universal recognition

Casualties of the armed conflict, 2011 - Libya

Photos of men, accompanied by Arabic text, displayed on red fabric on a wall.

Ensuring that every death from armed violence is promptly recorded, correctly identified and publicly acknowledged requires political commitment.

ECC works with states, experts and civil society to promote international recognition of casualty recording as a core component of states’ existing obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law. A growing number of states, listed below, have publicly expressed their support for this principle.

Documenting the identity of and circumstances in which people have died is key to the effective realization of a range of fundamental human rights – to know the truth, to seek accountability, and to pursue effective remedies. It can also facilitate survivors’ access to education, health-care and property.

Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

The legal obligation to record casualties of armed conflict

Read ECC’s paper on what international law says about casualty recording.

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The importance of casualty recording has been recognised and reinforced repeatedly by successive UN Secretaries-General, as well as by international humanitarian agencies and expert human rights bodies. These include:

  • UN Security Council
  • Department for Peace Operations
  • Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations
  • UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
  • Human Rights Council
  • Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
  • International Committee of the Red Cross

Supporting states

Victims of the 1994 genocide - Rwanda
Victims of the 1994 genocide – Kigali Memorial Centre, Rwanda