Civilian harm tracking and recording in a global context

In his 2013 report on the protection of civilians in armed conflict (POC), the UN Secretary-General called for the UN to establish a common system for civilian casualty recording as part of the broader monitoring of abuses and violations.

Every Casualty’s interviews reveal that individuals working within the UN system see casualty recording serving several objectives. These range from operational planning to advocacy, and across humanitarian, human rights, and post-conflict and development priorities. When the UN can impartially engage in casualty recording during armed conflict, it can complement and may often provide greater value to civilian protection and assistance activities than a state-run casualty-recording mechanism alone. In recognition of the dramatic impact civilian casualties have on operational and strategic goals, various conflict parties are increasingly considering adopting mechanisms for civilian harm tracking, such as the Civilian Casualty Tracking, Analysis, and Response Cell by the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). In his 2013 POC report, the UN Secretary General noted the utility of such tools for parties to conflict and for UN peacekeeping missions involved in “offensive peacekeeping operations.”

The UN, conflict parties, and other actors consider implementing both civilian harm tracking and casualty recording. Based on the case of Afghanistan, we believe having both mechanisms in conflict environments can help facilitate evidence-based discussions between military and non-military actors, supporting more effective action to protect and assist civilians.

Examining Civilian Harm Tracking and Casualty Recording in Afghanistan, p. 3