Oxford Research Group (ORG) has carried out the most comprehensive study of casualty recording practice to date. The project was conducted over a two-year period based on consultations with an international practitioner network of casualty recorders.

The report looks at the casualty recording practices of 40 different groups and individuals working in conflict and post-conflict environments in Africa, Asia, Europe and South America, and shows that victimization from armed violence can be documented effectively even in the most challenging situations.

States have an obligation to record all deaths and casualties of war, but the report shows that all too often civilian casualties go unrecorded. Casualty recording is a fundamental first step for ensuring the rights of victims of armed violence and plays an important role in shaping assistance to affected communities and individuals. This data also contributes to more effective planning of responses from humanitarian agencies.

Casualty recording is crucial for ensuring public accountability and justice, including monitoring whether parties to the conflict are compliant with international law. Effective casualty recording can include a range of data and where possible should include the date, location, number of people killed and a description of the type of violence involved, including the types of weapons used.

As part of the Every Casualty Campaign, Article 36 calls for states to record all deaths from armed violence, including information on the weapons used in order to fully understand the impact of types of weapons. This is an important part of analysing the acceptability of specific weapon technologies.

Based on this research, ORG has generated a policy paper and a set of practitioner-oriented papers aimed at providing policy recommendations and best practice for recording casualties of war to improve aimed at states, international organizations and civil society to improve casualty recording.

Action on Armed Violence (AOAV), Article 36 and Oxford Research Group are founding members of the Every Casualty Campaign, which calls on states to recognise every casualty of armed violence by ensuring that all casualties are promptly recorded, correctly identified and publicly acknowledged.

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Summary of Recommendations by Oxford Research Group

Drawn from and supported by our research into the work of casualty recorders, ORG makes the following recommendations for the immediate improvement of the state of casualty recording worldwide:

States should:

• Actively pursue the collection of all information about casualties when participating in conflict, and publish this information and share it with recorders as long as it is safe to do so;

• Raise their awareness of casualty recording, engage with its practitioners, and contribute to the development of the field;

• Where there are truth and reconciliation processes, integrate casualty recording and associated data into these.

Inter-governmental organisations and their agencies, both centrally and at country level, should:

• Share information about casualties with recorders, as long as it is safe to do so;

• Raise their awareness of casualty recording, engage with its practitioners and contribute to the development of the field.

All conflict parties should:

• Actively pursue and facilitate the collection of all information about casualties, and share this information with recorders as long as it is safe to do so;

• Not obstruct casualty recording, or those who collect information about casualties.

Global civil society should:

• Share information about casualties with recorders, as long as it is safe to do so;

• Raise their awareness of casualty recording, engage with its practitioners, and contribute to the development of the field.

Organisations that could use casualty information to benefit conflict-affected populations should:

• Make connections with casualty recorders, communicate data requirements, and use recorders’ information.

All casualty recorders should:

• Work together for joint standards for the field;

• Publish disaggregated information as long as it is safe to do so;

• Make connections with institutions that help realise recording’s benefits to conflict-affected populations.

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Links:

Oxford Research Group

Every Casualty Campaign

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