The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan Human Rights Unit (UNAMA HR) conducted civilian casualty recording in Afghanistan, informing on the conflict's impact on civilians, enabling the organisation to crosscheck data, and fostering conversations regarding changes to operations to prevent and mitigate civilian harm.
UNAMA HR – Civilian Casualty Recording in Practice
UNAMA HR began systematically recording and analysing data on civilian casualties in 2007-8. Civilian casualty recording is now part of UNAMA HR’s Protection of Civilians priority area of work, which also involves broader monitoring of the conflict’s impact on human rights protection. UNAMA HR’s actions based on casualty data have contributed to the assistance of victims of conflict, humanitarian response, and-through public and private dialogue-to encouraging parties to the conflict to review and revise policy and operational practices, to reduce casualties. Most of UNAMA HR’s private advocacy has been with international forces, though advocacy increasingly targets Afghan national forces as they take on more responsibility. UNAMA HR also conducts public dialogue with opposition forces. When UNAMA HR began casualty recording and advocacy in 2007, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) was not centrally tracking harm caused by its actions. Among other factors, this made constructive engagement around allegations of ISAF-caused harm more challenging. The development of UNAMA HR and ISAF’s relationship means that they are now able to discuss incidents in a constructive manner, using the results of their respective investigations. UNAMA HR’s work conforms to several principles of good practice in casualty recording including: striving for impartiality; having a systematic, documented casualty-recording procedure with confirmation and quality control mechanisms; and being transparent about methodology and definitions.
Examining Civilian Harm Tracking and Casualty Recording in Afghanistan, pp. 2-3