Commemorating International Day for the Right to Truth and the Dignity of Victims

First published 24th Mar 2014

Let us recommit to working to help victims, their relatives and society as a whole to realise the right to truth – and to protecting those who fight to see the truth prevail. 
                                                                 - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

March 24th is the International Day for the Right to Truth concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims. The purpose of the day is to honour the memory of victims of gross and systematic human rights violations and promote the importance of the right to truth and justice. 

Preserving the human rights and dignity of those that have died in armed violence is the driving force behind the work of the Every Casualty programme. We believe that keeping a detailed record of conflict casualties affords victims a basic, but essential, recognition of their humanity and ensures their lives will not be forgotten. 

By providing an official acknowledgement of deaths, a record of victims respects the victims' families' right to truth regarding the fate of their loved ones. It also provides them with a means of seeking redress and assistance. Careful records of human losses can also provide the basis for post-conflict truth and reconciliation, including trials, truth commissions, and memorials, all of which can help conflict-affected societies transition to a safer future. 

Sadly, humanity is still far from the realisation of universal casualty recording: in most conflict-affected nations the majority of the casualties of conflict and armed violence – both civilian and combatant – remain unrecognized and unrecorded. Their families are denied the right to truth concerning the death of their loved ones, and the victim's dignity is neither recognised, nor respected. 

Everyone knows that in conflict people die, but they are not just numbers. They are people with dreams, with hopes, with families, with suffering.
                                                               - Wissam Tarif, Former executive director, INSAN

The Every Casualty programme seeks to right this injustice through dedicated advocacy, research, and policy and practice guidance with civil society groups, the United Nations, and sympathetic governments. We also work with casualty recording organisations all over the world who strive daily to restore the dignity of victim's of armed violence and provide their families with details of their fate by ensuring that victims are not forgotten, but methodically and respectfully recorded. 

Through the Every Casualty Campaign, supported by over 50 NGOs, we are calling on all states, in partnership with other actors, to recognise every casualty of armed violence by ensuring that all casualties are promptly recorded, correctly identified, and publicly acknowledged. Only through such recognition can the rights and dignity of victims, including the right to truth, be respected and upheld. 

To find out how to join the campaign, click here