Committing to civilian casualty tracking in the future political declaration on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.
By Simon Bagshaw
Article 36 and a number of actors have consistently recommended that the future political declaration on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas (currently under discussion by States) commit States and their armed forces to establish the necessary capacity for tracking civilian casualties resulting from their operations.
Civilian casualty tracking would support State armed forces to better understand the impact of their operations on civilians in real-time, including from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. It would allow them to adjust their tactics and operational policies, as well as support broader policy development aimed at strengthening the protection of civilians in armed conflict.
As explained in the policy brief, civilian casualty tracking is not a new practice and has proven utility for armed forces. Recent developments in military policy and practice suggest a move towards greater predictability and consistency in understanding, responding to and learning from harm to civilians
The draft political declaration on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas recognizes the need to record and track civilian casualties but does not expressly commit States to establish the necessary capacity to do this. This could be easily remedied in the political declaration. In so doing, the declaration would play a significant role in facilitating a more predictable and consistent approach to casualty tracking and strengthening the protection of civilians, including from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.