Carnegie Mellon University
September 13, 2013

Media Advisory: Carnegie Mellon, Pitt Authors To Hold Events in Pittsburgh and D.C. To Launch "Counting Civilian Casualties" Book

Contact: Shilo Rea / 412-268-6094 /

Taylor SeboltBaruch FischhoffJay AronsonEvents: The current violence in Syria and Egypt vividly demonstrates the difficulty — and importance — of accurately recording and estimating nonmilitary deaths in conflict areas.

"Counting Civilian Casualties: An Introduction to Recording and Estimating Nonmilitary Deaths in Conflict" is a new resource for policymakers, military officials, journalists, human rights activists and others who want to be more informed — and skeptical — consumers of civilian casualty counts. Co-edited by Carnegie Mellon University's Jay D. Aronson and Baruch Fischhoff and the University of Pittsburgh's Taylor B. Seybolt, the book contains contributions from the top researchers in the field, presenting case studies from Latin America, South America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

Published by Oxford University Press, the book examines the most commonly used casualty recording and estimation techniques and evaluates their strengths and weaknesses, giving those who rely on these records the best possible understanding of how to pursue their work. It also analyzes how figures are used — and sometimes misused — by governments, rebels, human rights advocates, war crime tribunals and others.

Of the book, Lord John Alderdice, chair of the Liberal Democratic Parliamentary Party, House of Lords, London, who achieved fame for his efforts to broker a peace agreement in Northern Ireland, wrote, "Soldiers used to march off to war, with those who did not return honored as heroes. Now war visits itself on whole populations and calculating the human cost is much more complex. But this book is not just an impressive scientific examination of the techniques of measurement. It is a deeply moral statement that insists the every person counts and each death is a very human tragedy. That is why it is so important."

The co-authors will hold two events to launch the book. In Pittsburgh, Patrick Ball, the executive director of the Human Rights Data Analysis Group, and Luke Condra, assistant professor in Pitt's Graduate School of Public and International Affairs who studies international security and political violence, will provide commentary on the book and highlight the necessity of accurately recording and estimating civilian casualties. This event is part of CMU's University Lecture Series.

The Washington, D.C., launch will feature an expert panel, including Sarah Holewinski, the executive director of the Center for Civilians in Conflict. Alison Giffen, senior associate at the Stimson Center will moderate. The Stimson Center, a nonprofit and nonpartisan think tank that seeks pragmatic solutions for some of the most important peace and security challenges around the world, is supporting this event.

"Counting Civilian Casualties" was produced with the generous support of the U.S. National Science Foundation and the Ford Institute for Human Security at the University of Pittsburgh. Copies will be on sale at both events (cash and checks only).

For more information on "Counting Civilian Casualties," visit

Pittsburgh Event

When: 3 - 5 p.m., Friday, Sept. 20
Where: Porter Hall 100, Carnegie Mellon University

Washington, D.C., Event

When: 4 - 5:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 3
Where: Stimson Center, 1111 19th St NW, 12th Floor, Washington, DC 20036
Related Articles:
Counting Civilian Casualties: New Book By Carnegie Mellon, Pitt Authors Explores Proper Way To Record Deaths in Areas of Conflict
Carnegie Mellon Partners With Human Rights Data Analysis Group To Improve Syrian Casualty Reporting
Carnegie Mellon Receives Grant To Study How Social Media and Big Data Affect Protection of Human Rights


Pictured above are the book's co-editors (l-r) Carnegie Mellon's Jay D. Aronson and Baruch Fischhoff and Pitt's Taylor B. Seybolt.