Human Rights Council 53rd Session: Statement on the annual report of the High Commissioner

On Tuesday 20 June 2023, Every Casualty Counts participated by video link in the interactive dialogue on the annual report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

We welcomed the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ (OHCHR) comprehensive efforts to account for the dead and missing in Syria and Ukraine, but urged greater consistency applying these best practices across all of OHCHR’s operations. There are still too many field offices where casualty information is recorded only sporadically, if at all.

The High Commissioner’s annual report highlights OHCHR’s comprehensive assessment of casualties over ten years of the Syrian conflict.

Every Casualty Worldwide (ECC) welcomes this detailed effort to account for the dead and missing in Syria, as well as the periodic and comprehensive information about civilian casualties in Ukraine published by HRMMU.

However, in other conflict contexts OHCHR’s casualty recording work is sporadic and limited in detail. ECC urges the High Commissioner to ensure all current and future OHCHR field presences consistently record and periodically report publicly on all casualties of armed conflict and violence occurring within their remit.

We also encourage the High Commissioner to establish a casualty recording focal point within OHCHR headquarters. Such a role would assist field offices engaged in casualty recording, ensuring existing best practices are implemented consistently across the whole of OHCHR’s operations.

It would also provide a focus for engagement with state and civil society casualty recording initiatives. This would support the harmonization of casualty recording practices globally.

Comprehensive reporting on casualties across the whole of OHCHR’s mandate would assist the Council in its work and strengthen data-led approaches to the promotion and protection of human rights, including areas such as atrocity prevention. It is also vital for effective reporting on SDG indicator 16.1.2.

Thank you.

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