More than 170 members of four national parliaments call on governments to make a firm and concrete commitment to the fight against the use of bombing in populated areas. The call follows a May 27 online conference organized by Humanity & Inclusion and attended by 80 participants to mobilize States against the bombing of civilians.
39 members of parliaments from Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, the United Kingdom along with a total of 80 participants attended the interparliamentary conference to mobilize the support of their States for an ambitious international agreement to address the harm caused by the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.
At the end of the conference, 172 parliamentarians signed a joint statement to call their government to “support the development of an international political declaration to strengthen the protection of civilians from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, and to strengthen assistance to victims of such practices.” The statement is further opened for signatures.
“More than 170 parliamentarians signed the joint statement calling their governments to commit to the current diplomatic process to negotiate a strong political declaration against the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. We are pleased by the strong commitment of so many lawmakers. European governments should not shy away from their responsibilities: In armed conflicts, nine victims in 10 of explosive violence in urban areas are civilians. It is unacceptable. States have a historic opportunity to make a change.” - Alma Taslidžan Al-Osta, Disarmament Advocacy Manager
An international agreement
The draft of an international agreement against the use of explosive weapons in populated areas is at its final negotiation stage between states, UN agencies, international organizations and civil society. A final round of negotiations will be held in the Fall. Then, the international agreement is expected to be finalized by the end of 2021.
This diplomatic process started in October 2019. So far, more than 70 States have been involved.
The Secretary General of the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross, called States to avoid any use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas. This would create a presumption against the use of heavy explosive weapons in populated areas.
This solution is opposed by some States like France and the United Kingdom. Humanity & Inclusion is calling on reluctant governments to change their position on the wording of the declaration and to make a contribution that will have a concrete impact in the field and ensure the effective protection of civilians.
Stop bombing civilians
Bombing continues to destroy the lives of thousands of civilians in Syria, Yemen and more recently in Palestine and Israel. Between 2011 and 2020, 91% of victims of explosive weapons in populated areas were civilians. The use of explosive weapons in urban areas has systematic humanitarian consequences for civilian populations.
Explosive weapons kill and injure civilians, cause severe psychological trauma, destroy vital infrastructure such as schools, health centers and roads, and force people to flee their homes. Bombing also leaves behind explosive remnants of war that threaten the lives of civilians long after fighting is over. It is more vital than ever to adopt a strong political declaration to protect civilians.
By signing the petition below, you are helping us tell President Biden and his administration to end our country’s use, production, stockpiling, and transferring of anti-personnel landmines. These landmines are outdated and inaccurate weapons of war that kill and maim thousands of innocent men, women, and children every year. 164 countries—including all of the members of NATO except the U.S.—have signed an international Mine Ban Treaty and it’s due time we join them.
The United Nations Security Council discusses the protection of civilians in armed conflict the week of May 20, 2019. A delegation from Humanity & Inclusion is at the United Nations headquarters in New York to convince States to commit themselves against bombing populated areas. Arms Advocacy Manager, Alma Al Osta, is at the helm of the delegation. She took time to explain Humanity & Inclusion's actions:
Meetings - lots of meetings!
The Humanity & Inclusion delegation has planned several meetings with state delegations to convince them to commit themselves against bombing populated areas. A few days ago, we addressed them by letter to encourage them to refer to bombing in populated areas as a major problem for the protection of civilians in armed conflict when they speak at the Security Council debate. We also asked them to support the political process initiated by Austria, Ireland and several States in favor of an international political declaration against explosive weapons in populated areas. Humanity & Inclusion has been working for years with States and other NGOs on such a political declaration.
Civilians front and center
Bombings in populated areas have disastrous and long-term consequences for civilians--consequences that Humanity & Inclusion confronts daily in places like Libya and Yemen, and among Syrian refugees. At a breakout conference of the Security Council debate on May 23rd, we will report on what we have seen in the field: the suffering of civilians caused by bombings in urban areas. That includes disabling injuries, psychological trauma, destruction of vital civilian infrastructure, including hospitals and schools, population displacement, contamination by explosive remnants...
Bombing populated areas: 92% of victims are civilians
Bombing in populated areas has become a common practice in armed conflicts. Civilians are the main victims. According to Action on Armed Violence, more than 42,000 people were killed or injured by explosive weapons of all kinds - bombs, mortars, rockets, etc. - in 2017. When explosive weapons are used in populated areas, 92% of the victims are civilians.
Protection of civilians
During armed conflict, those who do not take part in the fighting must not be attacked. They must be spared and protected. The concept of "protection of civilians" thus encompasses the rules of international humanitarian law to protect all those - men, women, children - who do not take part in fighting.
20 years since the first UN resolution on the protection of civilians
Twenty years ago, in 1999, the United Nations Security Council noted that civilians had become the main victims of armed conflict and adopted its first resolution on the protection of civilians (Resolution 1265): "Civilians constitute the vast majority of victims of armed conflict and [...] combatants and other armed elements are increasingly targeting them." The same year, the Security Council decided on the first peace keeping mission dedicated to the protection of civilians (Sierra Leone).
Photo: On the 5th and 6th of December 2018, HI co-organized a regional conference in Santiago, the capital of Chile, on protecting civilians from bombing. 25 governments and a dozen civil society organizations and international NGOs attended. The organization raised awareness of this crucial issue and encouraged states to take a stand against the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. © HI
Jessica with retired Senator Harkin in his Washington, D.C. office. (photo above)
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In 2012, despite broad bi-partisan support, the U.S. Senate failed to ratify the CRPD by just five votes. It hasn't come to a floor vote since.
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