Remarks at Oslo Expert Meeting
Sahr Muhammedally, Senior Program Manager MENA and South Asia at CIVIC, spoke at the informal expert meeting on protecting civilians from the use of explosive weapons, in Oslo, Norway, June 17-18. (AS PREPARED).
Thank you to OCHA, the government of Norway, and Article 36 for inviting me.
These past two days, we have been discussing the devastating effects of explosive weapons in populated areas, and colleagues have discussed the progressive steps undertaken by ISAF, NATO and AMISOM to reduce harm from such weapons. My organization, Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC), has worked closely with each of these institutions on many of the policy issues discussed. A partnership between civil society and militaries has in these cases created a synergistic approach, bringing together information from both sides to create well-informed and progressive policies.
Civil society, as we have heard from the other panelists, plays an important role in drawing attention to and highlighting the impact of conflict on civilians. Various organizations have different approaches to advocating for changes to actions of military actors. My organization works directly with warring parties, seeking change from the inside in both policy and practice. We find pragmatic solutions by talking with civilians to identify protection gaps and then working with the military forces to adjust existing policies, doctrine, training and tactics, or to adopt new approaches—particularly with a mind toward better understanding the impact of military operations, so that warring parties can better prevent and respond to harm.