Casualty recording is recognised as a key factor in improving the protection of civilians during a major international conference in Oslo at the end of May 2013.
The 'Global Conference on Reclaiming the Protection of Civilians Under International Humanitarian Law' gathered 94 states and approximately 300 participants, including our Every Casualty Programme (ECP). Experts and representatives from governments, the military, humanitarian organisations and other relevant actors discussed how to strengthen the protection of civilians under international humanitarian law.
Identifying practical measures to address the issue of civilian protection in conflict was one of the objectives of the conference.
Casualty recording was recognised as an essential means to:
- identify specific patterns of harm,
- enhance compliance with the law,
- inform effective missions to protect civilians and
- influence military practices in conflict.
As the Foreign Minister of Norway, Espen Barth Eide, highlighted in his opening speech:
A key factor in improving the protection of civilians is ensuring that military operations and their effects on civilians are documented properly.
Our Every Casualty Programme Co-Director, Hamit Dardagan, was invited to address the meeting on the subject of 'Casualty Recording and Documenting Harm to Civilians: The Need to Know'. He outlined the importance of casualty recording for a wide range of actors concerned with civilian protection.
His talk emphasised:
- the central role of casualty recording in the better understanding of failures in civilian protection in order to prevent future failures;
- how casualty recording is already practical and being carried out by organisations across the globe in the 40-plus members of the International Practitioner's Network (IPN) that we convene; and
- how states needed to do much more to fulfil their share of responsibility.
States need ensure that every casualty of conflict is:
- promptly recorded,
- correctly identified and
- publicly acknowledged.
These are the three core demands around which our Every Casualty Campaign is built.
In addition to the presentation, Hamit and our Policy Officer, Jacob Beswick, hosted a Q&A side-event on casualty recording, which was attended by state representatives and interested organisations. We will publish some key questions, and their answers, in due course.