Reports

Reports

Published

July 2019

Written by

Alexa O'Brien

News In Brief: US media coverage of civilian harm in the war against ISIS

Reporters at US media outlets strongly believe that civilian harm should be a central component of broader war coverage. Yet non combatant casualties from US airstrikes were often poorly covered during the conflict against so-called Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

These are some of the key findings of a new report by Airwars published in July 2019, entitled News in Brief: US Media Coverage of Civilian Harm in the War Against ISIS.

Authored by investigative journalist Alexa O’Brien with additional research by Beth Heron, the report draws on interviews with almost 100 conflict media specialists at major US media outlets, and on new research examining actual US media reporting of the issue at key points of the war. The study also includes practical recommendations for improved coverage during future conflicts for editors.

News in Brief was funded by the Reva and David Logan Foundation in the US, and the J. Leon Philanthropy Council in the UK.

Published

March 2019

Written by

Airwars Staff

Airwars interim better practice recommendations in response to US military assessments of civilian harm

Responding to an ongoing US Department of Defense review process on civilian harm mitigation, Airwars submitted a short interim briefing paper outlining 25 better practice recommendations. These were based primarily on our granular engagement with civilian casualty assessment cells within the US military over several years.

Our recommendations ranged from the US military ensuring wherever possible that it conducts on the ground investigations into harm allegations; to ensuring that grid references for all confirmed casualty events are made public; to rolling out best practice standards across commands and coalitions.

Published

September 2018

Written by

Samuel Oakford

Credibility Gap – UK civilian harm assessments for the battles of Mosul and Raqqa

As part of its Inquiry into British military actions at Mosul and Raqqa, the UK Parliament’s Defence Select Committee issued a request for submissions from interested parties. Along with several other NGOs, Airwars submitted a detailed report looking into UK actions in the war against so-called Islamic State, and the broader issue of civilian harm.

The full version of the Airwars report – including new modellling of the battles for Raqqa and Mosul – is published here. A shorter version of the report is also available via the Select Committee.

While commending the UK for its general transparency, Airwars challenged the Ministry of Defence over its claims of no civilian harm from UK actions in either city – despite more than 1,000 targets reportedly being struck. Our report, Credibility Gap, contains a number of recommendations to help improve UK monitoring and reporting opf civilian harm in future conflicts.

 

Published

May 2018

Written by

Airwars Staff

Refusal by The Netherlands Defence Ministry to identify specific civilian harm events impedes natural justice, and runs counter to actions by other Coalition allies

Our third briefing paper for Dutch MPs was issued after the Netherlands conceded civilian harm in Iraq in up to three incidents between 2014 and 2016 – but refused to say where or when. The paper noted that without more detail, affected Iraqis would never know that Dutch aircraft were responsible for their loved ones being harmed – and could therefore never recieve an apology or compensation.This, we argued, ran counter to natural justice, and to the more transparent actions of Coalition allies.

Published

May 2018

Written by

Samuel Oakford

Death in the City – High levels of civilian harm in modern urban warfare resulting from significant explosive weapons use

In response to requests for written submissions to an inquiry by the UK’s All Party Parliamentary Group on Explosive Threats, this Airwars paper examined recent civilian harm reporting from Mosul, Raqqa, Aleppo and Ghouta – arguing that intensity of bombardment and population desnity were the primary drivers of negative outcomes for non combatants, rather than any use of ‘dumb’ versus ‘smart’ munitions.

Published

November 2017

Written by

Airwars Staff

Renewed Netherlands mission against ISIS risks the lowest levels of public transparency and accountability among allies in a very different war

Airwars was invited to address a committee of Dutch MPs at The Hague on November 29th, to discuss issues relating to the expected resumption of Netherlands airstrikes against ISIS from January 1st 2018. Our short report made clear that the war has become far more destructive in recent months; that civilian harm had worsened; and that Dutch public transparency needed to improve to match that of other allies.

Published

December 2016

Written by

Chris Woods

Limited Accountability: A transparency audit of the Coalition air war against so-called Islamic State

A detailed assessment of transparency and accountability issues among the 13-member alliance. The audit – commissioned by UK defence think tank the Remote Control Project – worked with four sample militaries (the US, UK, Canada and Denmark) to build a detailed understanding of how militaries track and assess civilian casualty assessments. It also gauges transparency by partner, measuring whether each ally can be held publicly accountable for its actions.

Published

May 2016

Written by

Airwars Staff

Improving Belgian transparency and public accountability in the war against Daesh

As Brussels debated whether to extend airstrikes to Syria, we submitted a short report to parliament urging improved public transparency. The report concluded that “The act of waging war rightly places onerous responsibilities upon all combatants. It is surely
right not only that nations are held accountable for their military actions – but that they are also seen to be held accountable for those actions. At present, an Iraqi or Syrian civilian has no means of knowing whether they have potentially been affected by a Belgian airstrike.”