Every Casualty Counts speaks in Geneva on the challenges of casualty recording.
At its 53rd regular session, the Human Rights Council considered the report by OHCHR on the impact of casualty recording on the promotion and protection of human rights (A/HRC/53/48). This report looked at a range of casualty recording initiatives around the world undertaken by States, UN agencies and independent civil society organisations. It highlighted some of the many benefits of comprehensive, high-quality casualty recording work. The report also noted the various challenges to effective casualty recording, related both to the process of recording and verifying information on casualties, and to ensuring that casualty recording has the greatest possible positive impact for human rights.
This panel discussion provides an opportunity to consider the findings of OHCHR’s report and related issues in greater depth. The event will clarify for all participants the main impacts of and challenges to successful casualty recording. It will also highlight what states and the international community can do – unilaterally and collectively – to maximise the human rights benefits of casualty recording.
While casualty recording modalities may vary according to the context, the actor carrying it out, and the specific objective sought, its underlying purpose is linked to the fulfillment and enjoyment of human rights by all. As a human rights tool, casualty recording not only supports those trying to claim their rights but also assists states in fulfilling their obligations under international customary, humanitarian and human rights law.
Typically, casualty records aim to include details about both the deceased (name, age, sex, ethnicity or religion, where relevant) and the circumstances of the death (time, date, location, circumstances, weapon, perpetrator). In conflicts with high numbers of civilian casualties, and other contexts characterised by insecurity, fear and a scarcity of reliable information, casualty recording serves to ensure that basic facts about persons who have been killed is gathered, verified and preserved reliably.
This meticulous data is frequently essential to the success of future efforts by survivors to claim their fundamental civil, political, economic and social rights. Cumulatively, casualty records provide the international community with the critical facts needed for early warning of a deteriorating situation, protecting civilians in conflict, informing humanitarian assistance to victims, assisting in the search for the missing, establishing responsibilities for violations, and supporting accountability measures.
For more information on casualty recording see: