Webinar: Overcoming challenges in casualty recording

On 15 April 2024 the Political Studies Association’s Specialist Group on Autocracy and Regime Change, the Centre for International Security and the Centre for Global Politics and Development of the Royal Holloway University of London (RHUL) together with Every Casualty Counts presented the third in their series of public webinars on casualty recording and its challenges in a variety of conflicts across Africa.

Background information

Even though international humanitarian and human rights law requires states to compile casualty records during wars and periods of gross human rights violations, they often neglect this duty, prompting intergovernmental organizations, civil society groups and academic centres to step forward and attempt to prevent human beings from dying without a trace of their identities and fates. Many such groups belong to ECC’s Casualty Recorders Network (CRN). CRN members record casualties in wars and otherwise violent environments across the globe. 

The goal of this webinar series has been to increase their visibility among policy-makers, diplomats and academics, who require the information they can provide but are often not aware of their important work. At the same time, the work of casualty recorders can be enhanced by the attention, support and expertise of policy-makers and academics. Thus, the webinar series has aimed at creating conversations and potential future collaborations between policy-makers, academics working with casualty data, and casualty recorders in the Casualty Recorders Network. The series is shining a spotlight specifically on casualty recording in several African contexts where many severe ongoing conflicts receive little attention.

All webinars in the series have been open to all, with advance registration required. If you missed this webinar, please find the related information and recording below.

Monday 15th April

14h London – 16h Nairobi – 09h New York (1h 30 mins)

Recording, attributing, and verifying casualties in conflict situations and repressive environments is a complex task, which requires navigating large amounts of uncertainty and risk. At the same time, recording casualties as accurately as possible is essential to protect civilians, raise awareness and understand conflict dynamics. Scholars and practitioners tend to take different approaches to casualty recording: scholarly projects often rely on media sources, while practitioners on the ground rely on direct observations and witness testimonies. Both approaches come with specific challenges and sources of bias and uncertainty. This panel discusses different approaches to casualty recording and explores effective solutions and best practices for documenting casualties with a focus on highly repressive environments.

Speakers

  • Daud Gideon, Executive Director of Remembering the Ones We Lost (South Sudan)
  • Prof Anita Gohdes, is Professor of International and Cyber Security at the Hertie School in Berlin. She works at the intersection of international security and technology, and is the author of the book Repression in the Digital Age: Surveillance, Censorship, and the Dynamics of State Violence (Oxford University Press).
  • Prof Kristian Gleditsch, is the Regius Professor of Political Science in the Department of Government at the University of Essex, director of the Michael Nicholson Centre for Conflict and Cooperation, and a research associate at the International Peace Research Institute, Oslo (PRIO). His research interests include conflict and cooperation, democratization, and spatial dimensions of social and political processes.
  • Prof Lisa Hultman, is a professor of Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala University, Sweden. Her work centers around civil war, violence dynamics, and international interventions, with a particular focus on protection of civilians. In her research, access to systematic and reliable data on war casualties is key to addressing questions of high policy relevance.
  • Associate Prof Magnus Öberg is the Director of the Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP), and Associate Professor at the Department of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University. In addition to conflict data, Öberg’s main research interests are centered on the moral psychology of grievances and the drives forced migration. His research has appeared in inter alia European Journal of International Relations, Journal of Peace Research, and Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.
  • Vitus Ukoji, is the Coordinator of the Nigeria Watch Project, a database on lethal violence in Nigeria. He is affiliated with the Institute of French Research in Africa (IFRA-Nigeria), Society for Peace Studies and Practice (SPSP) and the global Casualty Recorders Network coordinated by Every Casualty Counts (ECC). He has authored several articles and book chapters on violence in Nigeria and is currently a PhD Fellow in Diaspora and Transnational Studies at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan.
  • Moderator: Dr Janina Beiser-McGrath, Royal Holloway University of London

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