In late October, HI will attend the annual meeting of the First Committee of the UN General Assembly on Disarmament and International Security in New York City. The goal of the First Committee is to influence States so that they commit themselves to find a political solution against the bombing of civilians in populated areas.
More than 130 States gather at the UN for a month to discuss different topics related to the disarmament and international security and seek out solutions to the challenges in the international security.
Raise awareness and convince States
HI, which has been committed to putting an end to the use of explosive weapons in populated areas for several years, looks forward to the opportunity to discuss the topic with States, to raise the awareness of the humanitarian disaster caused by the bombings in populated areas, and to convince them to find political solutions to this scourge.
Latin America, the Caribbean, and Africa
The HI delegation will meet with other delegations from Latin America and the Caribbean States as well as African States on which the association relies heavily to advocate the cause on the international diplomatic scene. Last year, HI conducted a regional meeting with African States to raise awareness on the problems posed by the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, a topic that was quite new for most. The workshop resulted with a strong Maputo Communique endorsed by 19 African States, international organizations, and civil societies, calling for immediate political action to end the suffering cause by explosive weapons. HI is planning to hold a similar workshop this year with Latin America and the Caribbean States on December 5-6 in Santiago, Chile.
Present in many conflict-related humanitarian crises, HI witnesses the concrete consequences of explosive hazards in populated areas on a regular basis: the unacceptable number of civilian casualties, lifelong injuries and impairments, severe and long-lasting damage, and destruction to essential infrastructure and services such as schools, hospitals, housing, and water and sanitation systems. It also causes contamination for decades to come and is a driver and cause of forced displacement.
Alongside the International Network of Explosive Weapons (INEW), a coalition co-funded by HI in 2011 on strengthening the protection of civilians from the use of explosive weapons, HI will be a panelist in a side event on October 18, co-hosted by Austria, Chile, Mozambique, and Ireland.
On the same day, the INEW delegation with HI’s participation, will meet with the United Nations Under-Secretary-General of Disarmament Affairs, Mrs. Izumi Nakamitsu. In this occasion, we will repeat the urgency to put this topic as a priority on the UN Secretary General agenda for disarmament and discuss upcoming plans for work including implementation of the disarmament agenda and INEW’s activities in the upcoming period.
A movement of civil society on disarmament
HI will also be at the Humanitarian Disarmament Forum in New York on October 13 and 14. This Forum is led by civil societies working with States. Participants will explore other efforts to advance humanitarian disarmament and better protection of civilians in conflicts, such as the effort to secure a strong political declaration to prevent the use of explosive weapons with wide-area effects in populated areas. HI will promote the need to continue focusing on victim assistance and highlight the case of individuals affected by explosive weapons in Syria.
Photo caption: HI co-founder Jean-Baptiste Richardier speaks about bombing in populated areas at a Pyramid of Shoes event in Lyon, France in September 2018.