The purpose of the Every Casualty (EC) programme was to enhance the technical, legal and institutional capacity, as well as the political will, for every single casualty of armed conflict throughout the world to be recorded, civilian as well as combatant. Civilian deaths are particularly poorly documented, and often not recorded at all. Where death tolls are limited to purely numerical assessments, exaggerated, politicised claims and counter-claims frequently abound. By contrast, where Western nations are engaged in conflicts, they record their military dead not as numbers but by name.
Detailed, verifiable and comprehensive recording, when extended to all victims, provides both a memorial for posterity and public recognition of our common humanity. Careful and respectful records ensure that the human cost of conflict is better understood and can become an immediately applicable resource for conflict prevention and post-conflict recovery and reconciliation.
The Every Casualty programme (formerly known as the Recording Casualties of Armed Conflict programme) was divided into two parallel but interrelated streams, which complemented and supported each other:
Practice Stream: The Support and Development of Effective Practice in Casualty Recording
This stream focused on those organisations and individuals that have already made direct contributions to the work of casualty recording. Our aim was to bring these organisations and individuals - previously operating in isolation - into productive dialogue and peer exchange.
The stream had two projects:
- The International Practitioner Network (IPN) of casualty recording organisations, a pioneer of its kind in the world whose members were all organisations that document violent deaths from conflict. The Network aimed to provide a platform for the sharing of common problems, solutions and aspirations between members. The goal was to provide lasting benefit to members in their own individual work, advance members’ shared goal of strengthening practice and facilitate a more effective and united voice among practitioners. We worked with the IPN and other key stakeholders to develop standards in casualty recording.
- Researching Casualty Recording Practice, a research project to analyse current practice in casualty recording including state and UN practice. The aim of researching current practice was to help develop and strengthen recording, towards establishing this activity as a robust and recognised field. Such research was of use to current casualty recorders, the grounding of future projects, and the needs of the field as a whole. It also supported well-informed advocacy for casualty recording.
Advocacy Stream: The Development of International Norms and Standards
In this stream we worked to develop the concepts and tools which are necessary for governments and intergovernmental organisations to come together in a concerted effort to support the spread of effective and credible casualty recording. Our strategy included detailed research into existing international regulatory instruments, including their unrealised potentials and possible shortcomings, and carefully-framed proposals on how to more effectively embed casualty recording within international systems. It also included engaging individuals and organisations as well as state actors well-placed to act as champions for casualty recording on the international stage.
- We engaged with a number of states and intergovernmental organisations on the issue of casualty recording, and worked within the Protection of Civilians framework.
- We also worked with a growing number of civil society organisations to engage constructively with states and intergovernmental organisations through the Every Casualty Campaign, which called for every casualty of armed violence to be promptly recorded, correctly identified and publicly acknowledged. These were the central demands of the Charter for the Recognition of Every Casualty of Armed Violence, launched in 2011 at the British Academy in London with the support of over 40 NGOs from around the world.
Our previous project in this stream was:
- Making Casualty Recording a Legal Requirement, a comprehensive investigation into the law as it applies to all aspects of casualty recording, aiming to demonstrate that the recording of casualties is consistent with commitments already made by the international community and identifying how these can be further developed.
For the latest information about the activities of Every Casualty, go to www.everycasualty.org