Earlier today, Thursday 23 March, we released our new report: Casualty Recording in Human Rights and Humanitarian Law during a side event at the Human Rights Council’s 52nd session in Geneva.
This comprehensive report provides an oversight of the principles and provisions of international human rights and humanitarian law which are relevant to the task of casualty recording.
Despite the extensive requirements regarding states’ duties to account for the dead and missing in armed conflict and other situations of gross human rights violations, in practice they are frequently neglected or inadequately fulfilled. The report explores the contributory factors and seeks to address them by ensuring all policy makers, diplomats, military leaders and other relevant actors are fully aware of and understand states’ duties to account for the dead.
Human Rights Council side event
During the side event, Ambassadors, diplomats, civil society organisations, UN experts and academics came together for a discussion on the topic of Upholding the obligation to record every casualty: the role of the international community. Those in attendance included representatives from the Core Group of states for casualty recording led by the Liechtenstein Ambassador, a range of States including the UK, Paraguay and Switzerland, ICRC forensic experts, and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) team writing the report into casualty recording mandated by the Human Rights Council.
Key takeaways included the need for states to recognise their legal obligations to record casualties, to turn this into practical action and to scale up support to casualty recorders. There was significant support for casualty recording in the room and recognition for Every Casualty’s role in moving this forward in the Human Rights Council and beyond.
UN interest in casualty recording
Earlier this year, we responded to a call by the OHCHR to input into its report on the impact of casualty recording. Working with members of our Casualty Recorders Network we made 16 submissions to the study. We eagerly await the publication of the report in June.
The report follows the passing of a UN resolution on casualty recording in 2022, which was the culmination of years of hard work by Every Casualty Counts to raise international awareness of casualty recording as a distinct field of work.