Making Civilian Casualties Count: Approaches to Documenting the Human Cost of War [Book Review]

Human Rights Review 14 (4):347-366 (2013)

Our understanding of civilian casualties is not based solely on what is reported but also who reports these human rights abuses. Competing interests at the data collection stage have impeded the development of a more thorough understanding of civilian victimization during conflict. We find that current definitions of “casualty” neglect nonphysical forms of victimization and that group-based definitions of “civilian” can obscure the role of different individuals in conflict. We contend that the dominant definition of “civilian casualty” should be expanded to include the full array of harm inflicted on individuals, including psychological harm and what we refer to as multiple casualties of conflict. Expanding our definition of civilian casualties to include different degrees and kinds of wartime victimization would improve both documentation and analysis. We propose several areas for improvement in terms of the documentation of civilian casualties as well as potential solutions to the problems we identify
Keywords Casualties  Political violence  Methodology  Cost of War  Civil War  Genocide
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DOI 10.1007/s12142-013-0274-2
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