It is high time to implement a global casualty recording mechanism which includes civilians so that finally every casualty of every conflict is identified. The law requires it, and drones provide no exemption from that requirement
On Thursday 23 June at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP), ORG launched our major finding that there is a legal obligation to record every casualty of conflict, and that this obligation applies to the drone strikes being conducted in Pakistan and Yemen by the CIA. This was presented by our Senior Legal Consultant Professor Susan Breau.
Also at this public event, John Sloboda, Co-Director of the Recording Casualties of Armed Conflict programme, described how this legal research fits within ORG's broader initiatives on recording casualties.
The presentation was followed by a question and answer session chaired by Professor Steven Haines, Head of the Security and Law Programme at GCSP with the ORG panel, which also included from ORG: Hamit Dardagan, Co-Director of the Recording Casualties of Armed Conflict Programme, Elizabeth Minor, Researcher, and Rachel Joyce, Legal Consultant and Researcher.
The discussion paper on which this presentation was based: ‘Discussion Paper: Drone Attacks, International Law, and the Recording of Civilians of Armed Conflict’
The original discussion paper identifying the legal obligation to record casualties: 'Discussion Paper: The Legal Obligation to Record Civilian Casualties of Armed Conflict'
Our paper discussing different efforts to record the casualties of drone attacks in Pakistan: ‘Working Paper: The Drone Wars and Pakistan’s Conflict Casualties, 2010’
Media coverage on this issue:
‘Drone Warfare: Cost and Challenge’, Paul Rogers on OpenDemocracy
'Conflict Parties 'Legally Obligated' to Record Civilian Casualties', ABC South Australia television interview with Professor Breau
‘Report Questions Legality of Drone Strikes’, Time.com
'Hit and Run' Drone Strikes Are 'Breaking Laws of War', Channel 4
Picture credit: Asa Maria Granados, GCSP