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Hamit Dardagan on Iraq Body Count (IBC)

Professor Michael Spagat interviews Hamit Dardagan, co-founder of Iraq Body Count on the roots, purpose and accomplishments of the project.

In this video, I interview Hamit Dardagan, Co-founder of Iraq Body Count (IBC), a project which has been documenting violent deaths of civilians in the Iraq war which began in March of 2003.

The IBC database is organized primarily as a list of violent events in which at least one civilian was killed. Scroll through the IBC database you see entries, often covering multiple deaths, designated as “suicide attacks”, “air strikes”, “gunfire”, etc.. This event-based organizing system is rather different from the victim-based systems of, for example, the Marathon Stone and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

In principle, it is possible for a casualty recording project to provide its information both victim-by-victim and event-by-event. Indeed, IBC does also provide victim-based information although this section of the database is much less comprehensive than the event-based section. The amount of work necessary to provide either type of information is staggering and should not be underestimated.


Consider the following questions on the data collection practices of Iraq Body Count:

  1. What pieces of information does IBC try to collect about each violent event it enters into its database?
  2. What are the uses of these different pieces of information? If you prefer you could consider this question the other way around, i.e, could some of the information IBC is collecting be considered extraneous?

Upon my request Hamit provided the following bio:

Hamit Dardagan is the Co-Director of Every Casualty Worldwide, a UK-registered charity which works to that all casualties of armed violence are promptly recorded, correctly identified and publicly acknowledged, and which has produced the first-ever set of international, widely-endorsed standards for this endeavour.

In late 2002 he co-founded the Iraq Body Count project (, which systematically records violent deaths resulting from the country’s US/UK-led 2003 invasion and its aftermath. He has written or co-written a number of analytical papers on this, including for The New England Journal of Medicine, PLoS Medicine, and The Lancet. He has also written more general articles outlining the case for the detailed recording of all casualties in all conflicts, for publications as diverse as The British Medical Journal, The Guardian, and The British Army Review, and has also made numerous TV and radio appearances on these subjects.

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