Many of the casualties of explosive weapons around the world have been caused by improvised explosive devices (IEDs), such as car bombs, roadside bombs and explosive vests. Of the 34,758 people AOAV recorded as killed and injured by explosive weapons in 2012, 60% of the casualties were caused by IEDs.
The vast majority (81%) of these casualties were not armed patrols encountering roadside bombs, but civilians going about their daily lives. Suicide bombings were particularly deadly, with an average of 23 civilians killed or injured in each incident.
IEDs have become the weapon of choice for insurgents fighting superior military forces and their use is a global problem. In 2012 they caused casualties in 42 different countries and territories.
Addressing the humanitarian harm of IEDs is an important component of AOAV’s work on explosive weapons. As well as working with states to develop stronger standards around the use of manufactured explosive weapons in populated areas, AOAV plans to take steps to reduce the harm that IEDs cause to civilians.
To this end, AOAV is developing the following policy positions and research areas of interest.
Disrupting the manufacture of IEDs
Calling for regulation or monitoring of key materials in IED manufacture:
AOAV is working to ensure that existing measures regulating the sales and transfers of explosive materials are properly implemented, that stockpiles of these materials are fully secure, that there is proper scrutiny of other raw material sales (e.g. fertiliser), and that obligations to clear unexploded ordnance are respected.
Addressing the proliferation of information on IED manufacture:
AOAV is exploring the use of online controls to prevent the spread of information on IED manufacturing techniques.
Responses to IED incidents
Ensuring appropriate responses from militaries to the threat of IEDs:
Over 600 civilians were killed during the war in Iraq at checkpoints. AOAV is assessing both good and bad practices in global military Escalation of Force procedures to ensure best practice is identified and shared. We believe that a measured response in the face of an IED threat is imperative to minimize the risk of civilian casualties.
Proper training for military, police and the general public in spotting IED threats and responding to them:
AOAV is producing materials to help raise awareness of how to identify IED threats and to promote knowledge of how to respond to them.
Clearly explain the rights of victims of IEDs:
As part of our broader work on the rights of victims of explosive weapons AOAV is producing materials that clearly highlight what sort of assistance victims of IEDs are entitled to.
Proper counting of IED attack victims:
AOAV is advocating for the deaths and injuries of IED attacks to be promptly and properly recorded. We believe that organisations carrying out this work should be fully supported by government. Investigations of IED incidents should be also be transparently recorded and reported by the appropriate bodies.
Highlighting the impact of IEDs on civilians:
AOAV is working to bring home the real impact that IED attacks have on civilians, in both the immediate and long term. To this end, AOAV is collating evidence that will convey the real, unadulterated truth of what IED attacks do. It will disseminate this evidence with an eye to encouraging the condemnation of such attacks by religious, government and community leaders.
Working with opinion formers:
AOAV will reach out to faith groups, public commentators and leading moral figures who are not normally involved in talking about armed violence. Their voices, we hope, will provide a crucial component in our efforts to stigmatise the use of IEDs.
Working with the media:
AOAV will engage with media organisations to ensure that journalists know the different types of IED use. This will ensure that their coverage of IED attacks is accurate, that they properly report on the harm caused to civilians, and that they don’t become unwitting victims of secondary explosions.
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