Operationalizing Civilian Protection in Mali: The Case for a Civilian Casualty Tracking, Analysis, and Response Cell

This practice note details an emerging best practice of civilian harm mitigation in armed conflict: namely, the creation of civilian casualty tracking, analysis and response processes by a warring party or peace operation force. It asserts that in Iraq, Afghanistan and soon Somalia, these processes to better understand civilian harm and address consequences have positively shaped mission tactics, training, and overall operations. In both Iraq and Afghanistan, tracking and analysis has lead to a marked decrease in civilian casualties and facilitated the making of amends for any civilian losses. The paper argues that for warring parties to achieve their mission—particularly one with a protection of civilians mandate as with the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA)—they must fully understand the impact of their actions on the civilian population, positive or negative. For this reason, a Civilian Casualty Tracking, Analysis, and Response Cell should be created for MINUSMA to improve its ability mitigate risk to civilians as required by its Security Council mandate.

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