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Protecting civilians from explosive weapons in populated areas

Explosive weapons

Last Monday in Geneva, more than 70 States met for the second round of negotiations for a political declaration against the use of explosive weapons in urban areas. HI was there to remind them of the urgency of protecting civilians.        

Hala is 4 years old. She was victim of a bombing on her house in Yemen.

Hala is 4 years old. She was victim of a bombing on her house in Yemen. | © ISNA Agency / HI

HI's advocacy team has dialog with States to encourage them to develop a strong commitment against explosive weapons in populated areas. A political declaration will be opened for endorsement on 26th May 2020 in Dublin.

When bombing take place in cities, 90% of the victims are civilians. There is an urgent need for political action: We must control the use of explosive weapons that have no place in the cities which have become today's battlefields.

Two trends are emerging among States:

1. A minimalist stance that will simply reiterate the principles of International Humanitarian Law. This will have no impact on the ground.

2. A more ambitious one to recognize the urgent need to limit the use of explosive weapons in urban areas.

Two essential principles

HI and the coalition International Network of Explosive Weapons (INEW) support this second option. It is an ambitious declaration based on two essential principles:

  • Stop the use of the most destructive weapons in cities by precisely recognizing their serious impact on civilians: extended destruction perimeter; inherent imprecision of a weapon making it impossible to distinguish between combatants and civilians; dispersal of multiple munitions that durably pollute the affected areas.
  • Recognize the duty of States to act and provide reparation to victims.

Between now and the third round of negotiations on 23rd March, NGOs will be particularly attentive to the contributions of States, which will be decisive for the final content of the text of the political declaration.

If you are ever going to act to ensure your Government acts to Stop Bombing Civilians, now is the time. Email your member of Congress to help put pressure on the UK government. You will be helping to save lives.
Date published: 02/11/20


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