The Vienna conference, on October 1 and 2, gathered 133 States. A majority committed to develop a political declaration against the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. | © HI
On Monday, 18 November, at the United Nations in Geneva, States’ delegations, militaries, UN agencies and civil society will gather to start discussions on a political declaration against the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.
The negotiations, starting with this first meeting in Geneva, will be followed by another round of consultations early next year and should culminate at a conference scheduled for late spring 2020 in Dublin, where a political declaration will be opened for endorsements.
HI and members of the International Network of Explosive Weapons (INEW) are working with States to convince them to fully support a strong political declaration to end the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas and to ensure support the victims of these weapons.
“These first discussions are crucial to prepare a draft of the political declaration. During this first round of negotiations, we want to secure 3 points: to ensure that the declaration will call on states to ‘stop’ using explosive weapons in populated areas, to include obligations for states to assist victims and their communities and to require militaries to share good policies and practice for the protection of civilians in armed conflicts.”
Anne Héry, HI Advocacy Director
HI calls for citizens’ support to mobilize parliamentarians in 7 countries (Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland, United Kingdom) and ensure that governments will commit to the cause: Citizens are invited to write to their MPs on a dedicated internet platform to ask their government to support the declaration against the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.
Armed conflicts are increasingly fought in populated areas; mainly cities. The impact of the use of explosive weapons is devastating for civilians: According to Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) 20,384 civilians were killed or injured by explosive weapons in 2018. When explosive weapons are used in populated areas, 90% of the victims are civilians.
The use of explosive weapons in populated areas also leads to the destruction of essential infrastructures like houses, hospitals, schools etc. and leaves massive contamination with unexploded ordnances, which is one of the key drivers of forced displacement.
The three rounds of negotiations were launched in October at the Vienna Conference “Protecting Civilians in Urban Warfare”, gathering 133 States. A majority announced their willingness to work on a political declaration to end human suffering caused by the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.