On October 21st 2017, Action on Armed Violence’s Advocacy Director, Dr James Kearney, spoke at a side event at the UN in Geneva during the Annual Meeting of the States Parties to the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons. Organised by the delegation of France to the Conference on Disarmament, the event – After the Blast: near and long-term consequences of IED attacks – explored not only the initial consequences of these attacks – the often tragic death of both civilians and security personnel – but the wider damage caused to families, communities and countries as a whole.
Joined on the panel by Ambassador Alice Guitton, permanent representative of France to the Conference on Disarmament; Mohammad Shafiq Yosufi, Director, Directorate for Mine Action, Afghanistan; and Abilgail Hartley, Chief of Policy, Advocacy and Public Information, UNMAS Geneva, Dr Kearney discussed the unique impact that IED attacks have beyond the initial detonation, from the trauma caused to individuals, families and communities, through to the impact on health services, national security and political stability.
Several studies have shown that there can be a marked difference between the physical, explosive impact of an IED compared to other detonations or explosive incidents caused by devices such as landmines. The types of close contact injuries inflicted by improvised explosive devices are often much more serious than those associated with land mines. There is also the sheer size of the problem in terms of how frequently they are used, where and used by whom. In his talk, AOAV’s Advocacy Director commented that, “IEDs by their very nature cause direct and indirect harm – they are supposed to. In that sense they are a tactical and a strategic weapon. It is through that prism that their effects should be understood – to kill, to disrupt, to cause fear, to destabilise and to increase awareness of the attacker and their belief or political system.”
Dr Kearney concluded by stating that such a multifaceted challenge required a multi-organisational response. With drastic increases in civilian deaths and casualties witnessed in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Somalia in the first half of 2017 alone, that response cannot come quick enough.
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