What is casualty recording?

Kamloops Residential School Memorial, May 30th 2021

Kamloops Residential School Memorial, May 30th 2021

Casualty recording is about recognising and identifying the individual human cost of armed violence.

By systematically investigating and documenting the individual details of each death or fatal incident, casualty recorders restore and preserve the identity of each person killed.

Casualty recorders try to document the name, age, sex, and other relevant demographic details of every casualty. They also record details of the incident in which they died, including date, location, the means of violence used, and who killed them.

The death of one person is a tragedy; the death of one million is just a statistic.

Why record casualties?

Casualty records are vital.

They enable families to discover the fate of their loved ones, and to have their loss recognised. They provide evidence for war crimes tribunals. They identify the causes of unintended harm to civilians, so these can be avoided in future. They help aid workers know what help is needed, where. They identify patterns of violence which can predict a crisis. They tell societies the truth about their history.

Casualty records tell us who died, and how. They reveal the full human cost of war.

They turn statistics into people.

The Hall of Names, Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, Israel
Victims of the Holocaust – Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, Israel