The United Nations has released a report this week by the Secretary-General on the protection of civilians in armed conflict. The report, which includes AOAV’s data from our report ‘Unacceptable Harm‘, reiterates the concern for the civilians whose lives are shattered by armed conflict and stresses the need for a greater effort globally to protect civilians from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.
Recognizing the harm wrought on civilians in modern-day conflicts, the report reads: “In the majority of today’s armed conflict, it is civilians who suffer most severely. Every day, civilians are deliberately or indiscriminately killed or injured, often with total impunity.”
The report draws attention to the priorities that have emerged in the UN in regard to the protection of civilians. These include:
- Improving compliance with international humanitarian and human rights law
- Ensuring accountability for violation
- Strengthening the protection of civilians from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas
- Improving humanitarian access for people in need
- Protecting humanitarian and healthcare personnel and objects
- Preventing and better responding to forced displacement
The report highlights the devastating effects of the use of explosive weapons in populated areas from death and injury, to destruction of civilian homes or infrastructure to large-scale displacement.
Within the report the Secretary-General calls on Member States to develop policy guidance with the specific aim of reducing the humanitarian impact of explosive weapons in populated areas. Member states are also called upon to engage in the ongoing efforts to develop a political declaration addressing this issue and to support efforts to protect civilians from the explosive remnants of war (ERW), which continue to impact civilians long after conflicts are over.
Most importantly, the Secretary-General repeats his call to all parties to conflict to “refrain from the use of explosive weapons with wide-area effects in populated areas, owing to the widespread and predictable pattern of harm that results from such use”.
AOAV works with civil society and member states of the UN to promote recognition of the humanitarian impact of explosive weapons with wide-area effects in populated areas. AOAV welcomes the continuing support and leadership of the United Nations in ensuring that preventing the harm from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas is a priority for international community.
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