“Stop Bombing Civilians” international agreement to be finalize this week
Press Release | 16th June 2022, 09:00
Press Release | 16th June 2022, 09:00
The closing consultation for an international agreement to better protect civilians from explosive weapons in populated areas will take place on June 17, 2022 at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. More than 60 State delegations, as well as representatives of international and civil society organizations are expected to participate in the meeting at which the final version of the international agreement will be presented. This consultation will conclude a two-year diplomatic process. The final version will then be submitted to States for adoption at a conference to be organized in the coming months. Humanity & Inclusion will continue its dialog with States to ensure that this agreement will effectively improve the protection of civilians living in conflict areas.
Following the last consultations in April, State representatives reached broad consensus on the urgent need to commit to preventing the harm caused to civilians by the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. Several States appeared ready to exclude use of the heaviest explosive weapons from populated areas by including a presumption of non-use of explosive weapons with wide areas effects in populated areas. Many States declared themselves willing to share good practices on their use of explosive weapons in order to better protect civilians from these weapons.
Two months later, the final version of the international agreement that will be presented on June 17 has a strong focus on the humanitarian impact of explosive weapons, including their reverberating effects. It contains strong language on victim assistance, clearance and risk education.
© V. de Viguerie / HI - End of March 2022. A missile fell in this residential area of Kiev. One
But the agreement is less ambitious than expected on the limitation of the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. The impact of the international agreement on the ground will depend on States’ political will to fully commit tothe protection of civilians. If the agreement is endorsed by States impacted by conflict, as well as States that are actively participating in military operations, Humanity & Inclusion believes that this text provides a starting point for States to change military policies and practices to ensure better protection of civilians and civilian objects from explosive weapons.
The conference on June 17 concludes a two-year diplomatic process launched at the Vienna conference in October 2019 with a view to draw up an international agreement that will reinforce the protection of civilians in war zones. Humanity & Inclusion has engaged tirelessly with States to obtain an agreement that should effectively put an end to the suffering endured by civilians from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.
Massive and repeated use of explosive weapons in populated areas is one of the main causes of long-term humanitarian crises, and civilians are the principal victims.
Cities in Ukraine for example are currently enduring massive bombing. At least 8,000 civilians have been killed or injured since the beginning of the war on February 24, but the actual figures are certainly much higher. United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine says reports that “most of the civilian casualties recorded were caused by the use of explosive weapons with a wide-area effect, including shelling from heavy artillery and multiple launch rocket systems, and missile and air strikes.”
Vital infrastructure, including hospitals, houses, water supplies, etc., has been destroyed by bombing. Twelve million people have already fled to neighboring countries or other parts of Ukraine. This massive and systematic bombing of populated areas has triggered the worst humanitarian crisis in Europe since World War II.
Explosive weapons also have devastating indirect and long-term effects. They destroy infrastructure providing essential services such as healthcare, water, electricity, and sanitation, on which civilians rely heavily in times of conflict.
More than 250,000 people in the UK have signed Humanity & Inclusion’s petition to Stop Bombing Civilians.
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