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Casualty recording helps reduce armed violence, civilian casualties: new paper from AOAV

First published 2nd Jun 2014

A new policy paper published on 1 June 2014 by Every Casualty Campaign member Action on Armed Violence demonstrates how accurate casualty records can help reduce and prevent incidences of violence. 

The paper, How the Counts Reduce the Casualties, shows how data on the victims of armed violence and conflict has been pivotal to informing international and national processes that have helped reduce civilian casualties, including; the banning of landmines and cluster munitions, the re-evaluation of military tactics by ISAF in Afghanistan, and the implementation of targeted violence prevention programs in the United States and Colombia. The paper also examines how casualty records strengthen accountability procedures and help to prevent future violence. 

Building on recent research from both AOAV and Every Casualty on state and UN practice on casualty recording, this new paper highlights four ways in which accurate records of deaths and injuries can help reduce armed violence: 

  • First, casualty records can identify the effects of specific weapons that cause disproportionate harm to civilians. This can result in calls for laws and policies to control their use.

  • Second, records can expose military or other practices that result in unnecessary and/or high civilian costs, and provoke changes in such strategies.

  • Third, a clear picture of casualties of armed violence can help focus scarce resources, such as humanitarian aid, to support those most affected.

  • Fourth, casualty recording is used to strengthen accountability and thereby prevent future violence.

Because of these benefits, and many others, Action on Armed Violence and the Every Casualty Campaign believe that all casualties of armed violence must be promptly recorded, correctly identified, and publicly acknowledged. Unfortunately most casualties of conflict and armed violence continue to go unrecognized and casualty records are, more often than not, absent or incomplete. The United Nations and state governments must change this. 

The Every Casualty Campaign is working to ensure that systematic casualty recording is implemented to a high standard by both UN and state actors, as well as by those civil society groups already actively collecting data on casualties. To find out more about how to support the campaign please click here

Download AOAV’s full report as a PDF here.