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Practice Study: Good Practice in Conflict Casualty Recording

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Elizabeth Minor, John Sloboda and Hamit Dardagan
22 October 2012

This series of papers, titled  Good Practice in Conflict Casualty Recording: Testimony, Detailed Analysis and Recommendations From a Study of 40 Casualty Recorders, is based on Oxford Research Group (ORG)'s detailed research into the work of 40 organisations and individuals, who record the casualties of different conflicts across the globe.

Our research forms the largest ever study of casualty recorders. Drawn from the research, this collection explores key aspects of recording practice.

The primary purpose of this collection of practice papers is to help current and future casualty recorders reflect on and develop their work. It also aims to help others interested in recording practice better to understand the field. 

The research was conducted by our Documenting Existing Casualty Recording Practice Worldwide project, which is part of our Every Casualty programme.


You must tell the people that harm was done. We [record] so that the next generation will have a better understanding of the price they paid. This is normal in every nation that goes into war: they have pictures with the names of [their] soldiers. [But] the civilians who die, no one cares about them. Their names disappear and their bodies disappear, their memories disappear.

In our experience here, [when] there is a gap [of facts], revenge will emerge. This is not a sectarian fight, all [are] victims of violence. So we hope, we long, to contribute to a future reconciliation process with the data that we are collecting.

Quotes from casualty recorders interviewed for our research



The collection is the outcome of a two-year research project that ORG began in 2010 to provide a detailed overview of how work documenting deaths from armed conflict was being carried out around the world. The issues investigated included, what kinds of casualty recording are possible under various circumstances, what the challenges to casualty recording are, and how these challenges could be dealt with.

The research has focused mainly on civil society casualty recorders. The survey consisted of an online questionnaire and an in-depth interview with each recorder, asking a detailed series of questions about the organisation and their work to record casualties. 


The questions covered areas, such as:

  •     the definitions used by recorders in their work
  •     their sources and confirmation methods
  •     the challenges they face and the things that help them
  •     how they release the information they collect
  •     their aims and audiences
  •     and how their work is used

The two major objectives of the project were:

  • To build up a knowledge base on practice in casualty recording, that could help current and future casualty recorders with their work 
  • To gain solid information about the range of casualty recording work, which could be shared with a broader audience including policy-makers. (see 'Further Reading' below).


Accessing the Collection

The collection can be downloaded as individual chapters. Follow the links below:

Good Practice in Conflict Casualty Recording: Testimony, Detailed Analysis and Recommendations From a Study of 40 Casualty Recorders

Elizabeth Minor, John Sloboda and Hamit Dardagan


General Introduction and Acknowledgements

Paper 1: An Overview of the Field

Paper 2: Definition and Categorisation

Paper 3: The Range of Sources in Casualty Recording

Paper 4: Evaluating Sources

Paper 5: Why We Record Conflict Casualties: Practitioners Discuss their Motivations and the Dissemination and Uses of their Work (forthcoming) 

Appendix on Survey Methodology



ORG would like to thank all the reviewers of the research and its outputs, both internal and external to ORG, who offered useful comments and support. We also want to thank the 40 casualty recorders who gave their time to participate in the survey, for the rich and valuable information they provided us about their work. For a full list of acknowledgements, please see the chapter 'General Introduction and Acknowledgements'.


Further reading

ORG has also produced a policy paper, giving  analysis for a wider audience and recommendations from the research to states, global civil society and inter-governmental institutions:

Toward the Recording of Every Casualty: Policy Recommendations and Analysis From a Study of 40 Casualty Recorders



Top image: Before publishing the Kosovo Memory Book, a joint project of the Humanitarian Law Center in Belgrade and Humanitarian Law Center Kosovo, public presentations were made around Kosovo. Communities were invited to learn about the project, check whether loved ones they had lost were in the database, and make sure that details about them were correct. This picture is from a presentation in Prizren. (© Humanitarian Law Center)

Lower image and teaser text thumbnail image: Fieldwork interviews to document human losses in Croatia (© Igor Roginek/Documenta)



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Copyright © Oxford Research Group 2016. Some rights reserved. This publication is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Licence. For more information please visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/.