Ukraine War, July 16, 2022: Office of U.N. Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) consistently issues misleading numbers of civilian deaths in Ukraine: Why doesn’t someone stop them?

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To see a list of previous articles, enter “Ukraine” in the Search Box on the upper right, on The Trenchant Observer web site, and you will see a list in chronological order.


1) Steve Gutterman, “The Week In Russia: Civilian Deaths And ‘A New, Dark Page Of Repression,” RFE/RL (Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, July 15, 2022 (06:35 GMT);


Gutterman reports,

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said that as of July 13, it had recorded 4,432 civilian deaths since the invasion on February 24, including 277 children, but that it believes the actual figures are considerably higher.

In Mariupol alone, over 20,000 civilian deaths have been reliably reported by other sources.

What is going on?

Could it be that the Russians and their friends have control of the administrative machinery of the OHCHR, and are publishing these ridiculously low death estimates an part of their propaganda efforts to minimize the horror of their massive war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine? Who knows?

Why has no one stopped this outrage?

Possible explanations include:

1) United Nations bureaucratic inertia.

2) The failure of the OHCHR to explain the specific limitations of their methodology.

3) The laziness of the Press.

Actually, all three factors help to explain this outrage.

Also, maybe it has just not occurred to anyone how these misleading numbers help to undercut support for Ukraine in the fence-sitting countries of “the South”.

Part of the explanation can be found in the June 22, 2022 draft report of the OHCHR on civilian deaths in Syria between March 2011 and March 2021.

The Report explains the rigorous criteria which must be met for a fatality to be included in the report’s numbers of civilian deaths:

Based on the information collected by the eight sources listed in the previous section, OHCHR finds a total of 350,209 unique, documented, identifiable casualties for the period 1 March 2011 through 31 March 2021.

A casualty is considered identifiable if their full name, date of death, and the governorate in which they died have been recorded. Records missing any of this information are excluded from this analysis.

–“Civilian Deaths in the Syrian Arab Republic,” (March 2011-March 2021), U.N. Doc. A/HRC/50/68 (28 June 2022), Section IV (A).

The fact that the OHCHR refers to casualties and civilians killed interchangeably raises serious questions.

In a civil war, to be counted as a fatality by the OHCHR, the Office must have the full name, the date of the death, and the name of the governate (province) in which a victim was killed.

This is marvelous work for U.N. statisticians, who should be congratulated for the thoroughness of their work.

OHCHR and other U.N. officials, however, should be aware of how the statistics they report are used.

At a minimum they should not only explain the limitations of how they count fatalities, but also include estimates provided by other sources.

This they have not done in releasing their utterly misleading numbers on civilian deaths in Ukraine.


OHCHR, Press Release, “Ukraine: civilian casualty update 12 July 2022.”

Lazy journalists and their editors should never report these numbers without citing other estimates of the number of civilian deaths.

Ukrainian authorities who may be tempted to use the figures to downplay their losses should be required to give full estimates of civilians killed provided by other reliable sources, such as the deputy mayor of Mariupol.

Indeed, Ukraine should not even cite the OHCHC figures, given their inherent propensity to mislead.

The Trenchant Observer


See also,

Only force can stop Putin

“Ukraine War, April 5, 2022 (II): Force must be used to stop Putin,” The Trenchant Observer, April 5, 2022.


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