Iraq Inquiry report criticises UK government’s failure to monitor civilian casualties

The Chilcot Iraq Inquiry, established to ‘identify lessons that could be learned from the Iraq conflict’, published its report on 7 July 2016.

The inquiry report examines in detail the issue of civilian casualties, with a 50-page chapter focused exclusively on this matter. The analysis in this chapter was substantially informed by the work of CRN member, Iraq Body Count, which has systematically recorded up to 179,327 civilian deaths from the start of the conflict in 2003 to the present day. Iraq Body Count has published a response to the Chilcot report.

The inquiry report draws important conclusions relevant to casualty recording, criticising the absence of effective action on this point. The report notes that the government did not consider it had a legal obligation to record casualties, and appeared more concerned about obtaining casualty figures which would produce a favourable public response than in ensuring comprehensive data collection and analysis. Internal disagreement over which department was responsible further delayed and obstructed any efforts to gather relevant information on casualties.

The report concludes that:

The Inquiry considers that a Government has a responsibility to make every reasonable effort to identify and understand the likely and actual effects of its military actions on civilians.

Chilcot iraq inquiry report, section 17.277

The Government should be ready to work with others, in particular NGOs and academic institutions, to develop such assessments and estimates over time.

chilcot iraq inquiry report, section 17.280