Lessons from Afghanistan on civilian harm tracking and casualty recording

The Center for Civilians in Conflict and Every Casualty have examined practices in complementary reports. In Civilian Harm Tracking: Analysis of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) efforts in Afghanistan, the Center addressed the creation, implementation, and evolution of ISAF's Civilian Casualty Tracking Cell (CCTC) and identified lessons for future such mechanisms. Every Casualty examined casualty recording within the UN system, and particularly the work of UNAMA Human Rights Unit in The UN and Casualty Recording: Good Practice and the Need for Action. They have made recommendations for future use in the areas of objectives, methodology, staff training, tools and capabilities, collaboration and data dissemination.


When undertaking civilian harm tracking and casualty recording, the following practices are recommended:

  • Have a clear objective in relation to civilian protection or assistance;
  • Adopt a clear methodology, outlining the necessary quality, and detail required from data;
  • Develop documented and enforced procedures;
  • Apply transparency for all definitions and procedures;
  • Use robust information management tools that can incorporate all information relating to an incident;
  • Ensure that new information or updates are incorporated into previously investigated cases;
  • Have adequately trained and dedicated staff;
  • Promptly investigate incidents, to avoid information loss and ensure timely action to protect and assist civilians;
  • Have the capability to analyse data and be able to respond to trends in harm during conflict;
  • Communicate and collaborate with other organisations both to gather information and to take joint action to reduce harm; and
  • Seek support for the mechanism, both from within the institution housing it and from external collaborators.

Examining Civilian Harm Tracking and Casualty Recording in Afghanistan, pp. 3-4