New York, US. June 16, 2022 – Countries have the opportunity to address harm arising from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas (EWIPA) by supporting the political declaration in the final round of consultations led by Ireland at the United Nations on June 17. Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC) urges all States to offer their support to the document and to take all necessary actions to enhance the protection of civilians in urban warfare.
Sahr Muhammedally, CIVIC’s Director for Middle East & South Asia, has led CIVIC’s advocacy efforts during the drafting process with UN Member States. Here are her comments:
“The political declaration is a long-awaited outcome of several years of consultation, which involved showing the evidence of harm caused to civilians when armed actors use explosive weapons in populated areas. This document is the result of many compromises, yet it is a significant milestone for the protection of civilians in urban warfare. The political declaration commits States to strengthen the protection of civilians during armed conflict, including by requiring States to impose limits on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas in order to avoid civilian harm
“With armed conflicts being increasingly fought in urban areas, civilian populations are killed, injured, and maimed at an alarming rate. The data is clear: Over 90 percent of victims from explosive weapons are civilians. When basic services—such as healthcare, water, and electricity—essential for the survival of civilians are damaged, there is an increase in death, disease, and displacement. From Mosul to Raqqa to Mariupol there is no shortage of examples illustrating the devastating effects of explosive weapons used in populated areas. The time for outrage has passed and the time for action is now.
“States should support the political declaration and turn the commitments laid out in the document into actions. It’s only through collective action that we can set stronger standards for the protection of civilians. However, the declaration is just the beginning and much work lies ahead. The declaration provides an agenda for further action, including changes in military policies and practice, to limiting the harm from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.”
CIVIC engages governments and militaries to develop and implement civilian harm mitigation good practices. In support of the next steps on the implementation of the political declaration, CIVIC has issued a Primer on Civilian Harm Mitigation in Urban Operations with practical recommendations for governments and militaries.
CIVIC is a member of the Steering Committee of the International Network for Explosive Weapons (INEW), an NGO consortium advocating for the prevention of harm from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. The ICRC and UN Secretary-General have called on states to support the political declaration and limit use of explosive weapons in populated areas.
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