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Ban-ki Moon report gives new boost to Casualty Recording 

First published 9th Dec 2013

UN Secretary General Ban-ki Moon highlights the need for increased casualty recording in most recent report on the protection of civilians in armed conflict.

In a report issued on 22 November on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, UN Secretary-General Ban-ki Moon stressed “the continuing importance of casualty recording”. Distinguishing the practice of casualty recording from that of casualty tracking, the Secretary General stated that 

“unlike tracking, which is undertaken by a party to conflict with a view to informing tactics and mitigating harm to civilians, casualty recording is undertaken by States, civil society and other actors, including the United Nations, to systematically maintain a record of deaths and injuries from armed violence in order to inform advocacy with parties to conflict.”

This is the second time the Secretary General has emphasized the need for improved casualty recording. He first raised the issue in the 2012 report on the protection of civilians, where he highlighted the role casualty recording can play in clarifying the “causes of harm to civilians as well as the actions needed to end such harm and prevent its recurrence.”

Most importantly, as part of his recommendations on improving the protection of civilians in the field, the Secretary General concluded his most recent report by saying

"United Nations actors should work together to establish a common United Nations system to systematically record civilian casualties as part of broader efforts to monitor and report on violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, drawing on good practice and expertise from within the United Nations, Member States and civil society."

The Every Casualty programme welcomes the Secretary General’s comments and supports the establishment of both a task force and a common UN system for gathering and recording casualty data.

In support of both of these objectives, the Every Casualty programme, in partnership with Action on Armed Violence, has, over the course of the past year, undertaken an independent review of UN and state practice in casualty recording. The research, which surveyed a range of UN agencies - focusing particularly on the effective work already being done in casualty recording by UNAMA (United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan) - will be published in early 2014.

The full text in the Secretary General’s report can be accessed here: http://bit.ly/1cqpAok