Remains of the dead to be identified, Tuzla morgue

Researching Casualty Recording Practice

There are numerous casualty recording initiatives around the world, some operating in the midst of ongoing conflicts, and others in a post-conflict environment. Each initiative has amassed some level of experience and relevant expertise in dealing with the problems and obstacles that this type of work, and its practitioners, face. This research project draws on the experience of casualty recording organisations around the world to identify and promote good practice, and analyse key issues for practitioners and policymakers wishing to support this work.




Photo credit: The Advocacy Project

Agreed-upon good practices or standards, by which different projects, methods and outputs may be compared and evaluated, are lacking in the field of casualty recording. One means by which the Every Casualty programme is addressing these issues is through researching existing practice, and publishing analysis on key issues in casualty recording and good practice.

The overall purpose of this is to establish a feasible means of undertaking incident-based and victim-based recording in a variety of different conflict and post-conflict situations, and to promote the development of casualty recording practice, with three specific aims:

  • to equip new projects in a well-grounded way, building on the experience of existing initiatives,
  • to help establish a self-supporting process for the development and review of standards and practices for casualty recording,
  • and to assist in the development of a recognised field of study.

Key publications

In October 2012, ORG published the results of a landmark two-year study into the practice of forty casualty recorders, who were predominantly NGOs.

The study's collection of practice-focused papers, Good Practice in Conflict Casualty Recording, is aimed primarily at those who record casualties, are intending to do this work, or are interested in understanding casualty recording practice better. The collection is a series of analytical papers, looking at key themes in recording practice, and how casualty recorders in different situations worldwide are addressing these. The collection aims to provide practitioners with a reflection of their field, which might help them strengthen their own work further.

The study's policy paper, Towards the Recording of Every Casualty, provides an overview of why casualty recording is important and useful, and demonstrates that it can be effectively carried out under varying conditions both during and after conflict. The analysis of this policy paper is directed at a wider audience and contains recommendations for states, global civil society and inter-governmental institutions on how casualty recording can be better supported both domestically and at the international level. These recommendations are intended for the immediate improvement of casualty recording worldwide, and will contribute to the Every Casualty programme's advocacy stream.

This two-year project was jointly funded by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs from July 2010 – June 2012. The findings were launched at an event at USIP in Washington DC in October 2012.

Current activities

In 2013, the Every Casualty programme is extending its research into casualty recording work with an investigation into the practice of states and inter-governmental institutions.

Assisted by the work of this project area, the Every Casualty programme is also starting a process to develop standards in casualty recording with the International Practitioner Network.

If you would like more information about this the Every Casualty programme's research projects, please contact Elizabeth Minor, Research Officer .