States ready to adopt the first international agreement to protect civilians from explosive weapons in populated areas

  • More than 70 states are expected to sign the first international declaration of explosive weapons to protect civilians in populated areas, at Dublin Castle, on Friday 18 November 2022.
  • Activists from around the world will come together after a decade-long campaign: a Civil Society Forum on Thursday 17 November 2022 will plan how the Declaration can help make civilians safer in conflict.
  • The Declaration commits states to impose restrictions on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas to reduce harm to the civilian population and also to help victims and affected communities.
  • When explosive weapons are used in populated areas, 90% of the victims are civilians.

Dublin, November 17, 2022 The States will meet at Dublin Castle this Friday to sign the “Political Declaration on the Strengthening of the Protection of Civilians against the Humanitarian Consequences Derived from the Use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas”. The landmark agreement addresses the widespread suffering and devastation of the civilian population as a result of the shelling and shelling of cities, towns and other populated areas. The International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW) welcomes the declaration and calls on all states to sign and implement it.

This statement sends a clear message that using explosive weapons in populated areas unacceptable causes suffering and devastation of the civilian population and must end. It is time for all states to endorse and implement the Declaration. a assist civilians and their communities during and after conflict.” said Laura Boillot, Coordinator of the International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW).

The Declaration requires states to impose limits on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, which is the leading cause of harm to civilians in today’s conflicts.

It also requires states to help victims and affected communities both during and after conflict, and to address the long-term suffering that results from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. Civilians suffer physical and psychological harm. Damage to and destruction of critical civilian infrastructure interferes with healthcare, education, and other services. People are forced to flee the towns and cities where they live and work.

“No one thinks of people like me, with nowhere to hide. This leads to psychological trauma. He was 12 years old, in a wheelchair and terrified, but nobody could do anything. When civilians are bombed, not only lives, cities and homes are lost, but also their future. I hope that signing the declaration is not just a piece of paper, but the beginning of real change. The people who suffer in wars all over the world need it.” said Nujeen Mustafa, who fled Aleppo, Syria to Germany.

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On Friday, the morning of the conference, activists and participating states will unveil a ‘Memorial to the Unknown Civilian’, in recognition of the high civilian casualty toll from bombing and shelling in towns and cities around the world, in the Castle garden from Dublin. . Participants will also be able to visit a uniquely built replica of a ‘Bombed School’ in the Castle.

There is a pervasive pattern of damage: when towns and cities are bombed, it is civilians who suffer the most.t,” said Alma Taslidzan Al-Osta of Humanity and Inclusion.

Ethiopia, Iraq, Palestine (Gaza), Syria, Ukraine, and Yemen are recent examples of affected counties.

Ahead of the conference, activists and survivors of armed conflict will also gather at a World Civil Society Forum in Dublin on Thursday 17 November to discuss the civil and humanitarian problems caused by explosive weapons and ensure that the international declaration has a significant impact.

“Children suffer disproportionately from the consequences of today’s armed conflicts, as city centers become battlefields. This could be an important step forward to stop the war on children, but the declaration will mean nothing without strong and urgent implementation.” said James Denselow, Head of Conflict at Save the Children, UK.

Explosive weapons were designed for use on open battlefields and are often deadly options when used in towns, cities, and other areas where civilian populations are concentrated.

“Heavy explosive weapons, which are inaccurate, have a large blast or fragmentation radius, or are released in groups, They are a deadly option for civilians.” said Steve Goose of Human Rights Watch. “The use of explosive weapons with such wide area effects in populated areas should always be avoided.”

The text of the Declaration was finalized at the United Nations in Geneva on June 17, 2022, through a diplomatic process led by the Government of Ireland.

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States that sign the declaration must move quickly to begin the implementation process. This includes the development of policies and practices that limit the use of explosive weapons in populated areas and ensure that the protection of civilians is a priority in the planning and conduct of military operations.

ENDS

About INEM – https://www.inew.org @explosiveweapon

The International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW) is an association of NGOs calling for immediate action to prevent human suffering from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. It comprises more than 40 organizations from 25 countries. The steering committee includes Action on Armed Violence (AOAV), Article 36, Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC), Humanity and Inclusion (HI), Human Rights Watch, PAX, Norwegian People’s Aid, Oxfam, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. , Save the Children and SEHLAC

About the Dublin Adoption Conference, Dublin Castle on Friday 18th November 2022

a new international Declaration on the protection of civilians against the use of explosive weapons in populated areas is opened for states to endorse, at a conference in Dublin, on Friday 18 November 2022.

Foreign Minister Simon Coveney will open the meeting, along with other high-level representatives from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the United Nations and the International Network on Explosive Weapons, and conflict survivor and activist Syrian Nujeen Mustafa.

The use of explosive weapons in populated areas is the leading cause of civilian casualties in contemporary armed conflicts, and the Declaration is the first formal international recognition that this must be urgently and directly addressed. The declaration commits states that support it to take steps to implement it through changes to their national policies and practices, including military policies and operational rules of engagement.

The declaration it was finalized by the states on June 17, 2022 at a meeting at the UN in Geneva. It’s is the culmination of nearly three years of Irish-led diplomatic negotiations involving States, the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and civil society organizations, including the International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW). .

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The declaration promotes stricter standards to protect civilians from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas and commits states that support it to take steps to implement it with changes to their national policy and practice, including military policies and operating rules of confrontation.

The statement should be seen as a starting point, not an end point. A key area will be changing military practice away from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. There is much more to be done to strengthen the protection of civilians and the construction of stricter regulations and the momentum of significant changes takes time.

Why strengthen the protection of civilians against the use of explosive weapons in populated areas?

  • As the world urbanizes, so does the conflict. Civilians face shelling and shelling where they live and work. The way wars are fought has also changed: fighting and shelling often takes place in crowded population centers, with weapons designed for use on open battlefields.
  • A century ago, civilians made up between 10 and 15% of casualties in armed conflicts. By World War II this increased to almost 50%. In the 1990s, civilians accounted for 80-85% of the victims of armed conflict, a growing trend that continued or intensified in the 21st century. (Kaldor, 2013, quoted in ODIs).
  • Today, when explosive weapons are used in populated areas, 90% of the victims are civilians, a trend consistently documented for more than a decade. (AOAV). In the last decade, more than 511,000 civilians were killed and/or directly injured by explosive weapons (AOAV)
  • The UN Secretary General described the use of explosive weapons in populated areas as the “main killer of civilians in conflict. The attacks and the loss of homes and essential services, combined with residual contamination from unexploded ordnance, cause many civilians to flee or abandon their homes (see more ICRC).

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