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Towards a political declaration on the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas

AOAV’s data has consistently shown that when explosive weapons are used in populated areas, over 90% of the casualties are likely to be civilians. Such data makes the concerns surrounding the use of explosive weapons in populated areas hard to ignore and many nations are responding to this reality. In recent years, over 109 states and territories have publicly acknowledged the harm caused by the use of such weapons in populated areas.

AOAV and other members of the International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW) have urged states to address this consistent pattern of harm, including through the development of a political declaration to prevent the use of explosive weapons with wide-area effects in populated areas.

In October 2019, Austria hosted an international conference on Protecting Civilians in Urban Warfare, which saw more than 100 states gather to address the impact on civilians from explosive violence in urban areas. At this conference AOAV presented on almost a decade of data, evidencing the harm from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. At the close of the conference, Ireland announced a series of consultations towards the development of a political declaration to address this harm.

INEW members have highlighted many of the key points that should be included in such as political declaration, including:

  • A description of the different impacts, including:
    • Civilian deaths and physical injury, including physical impairment, psychological trauma (and social discrimination and economic deprivation often faced by victims and survivors)
    • Destruction of housing, water and sanitation, health, energy, education, transport infrastructure, and interruption of associated services, and costs for reconstruction and recovery
    • Contamination of territory with explosive remnants of war, and environmental degradation
    • Displacement and denial of return
    • Denial of humanitarian access
  • A commitment by States to:
    • Develop operational policies and procedures that will stop the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas
    • Recognise the rights of victims and affected communities and provide assistance
    • Support and undertake data gathering including data on victims disaggregated by sex and age
    • Enable humanitarian and protection measures
    • Build a community of practice, including through regular meetings to discuss the issue and progress towards reducing harm
    • Share positive practice and experiences.

While two of the consultations have taken place, one on November 18th 2019 and the other on February 10th 2020, the final consultations which were due to begin March 23rd 2020, have been postponed due to concerns around COVID-19. The final consultations will be rescheduled for as soon as is practicable.