What do we do to address the impact of weapons?

Action on Armed Violence seeks to reduce the impact of armed violence through monitoring and research of the causes and consequences of weapon-based violence. We have a specific focus on the impact of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas and have been running a global monitor of explosive violence since October 2010.

In addition to monitoring harm, we have investigated numerous case studies of explosive weapon harm, including air strikes by NATO forces, improvised explosive device attacks by jihadist terrorists and the wide area harm of explosive weapons in Ukraine, Jordan and Israel, amongst others.

Our work is disseminated at international forums, such as the UN and we have presented evidence of explosive violence harm to the UK parliament and to numerous think tank and public debates. Our work is widely cited in the media and we are a regular commentator on armed violence internationally. For more information, please contact Iain Overton - ioverton@aoav.org.uk

Overview

Overview

Weapons-related research and advocacy work are key components of AOAV’s efforts to reduce the incidence and impact of armed violence. To this end, we are very active in addressing the harm wrought by explosive weapons in populated areas.

AOAV has a long history of reducing access to and use of weapons that cause harm to the general population. Over the past fifteen years, AOAV has played a leading role among civil society organisations acting on weapons – in promoting and securing international agreements related to disarmament, including the Antipersonnel Mine Ban Treaty (1997), Protocol V (2003), the Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development (2006), the Convention on Cluster Munitions (2008) and the Oslo Commitments on Armed Violence (2010), the Arms Trade Treaty (2014) and the UN Programme of Action on Small Arms.

AOAV’s key reports on explosive violence include:
Explosive Truths: Monitoring Explosive Violence in 2016 (pdf)
Patterns of Harm: Five years of AOAV explosive violence data (2011 – 2015) (pdf)
Unacceptable Harm – AOAV’s Explosive Violence Monitor 2015 (pdf)
Explosive States: Monitoring Explosive Violence in 2014 (pdf)
Explosive Events: Monitoring Explosive Violence in 2013 (pdf)
An Explosive Situation: Monitoring Explosive Violence in 2012 (pdf)
Monitoring Explosive Violence: The EVMP dataset 2011 (pdf)

Our key reports on manufactured weapons include:
The Refugee Explosion (pdf)
Wide-area impact report (pdf)
Under Fire: Israel’s artillery policies scrutinised (pdf)
Air Power in Afghanistan (pdf)
A Tale of Two Cities (pdf)

Our key reports on Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) include:
Addressing the threat posed by IEDs (pdf)
Understanding the rising cult of the suicide bomber
(pdf)
Understanding the regional and transnational networks that facilitate IED use (pdf)
Tracking IED Harm (pdf)
Anatomy of a Suicide Bombing (pdf)
Material Harm (pdf)
Blood on the Streets of Boston (pdf)

Whilst our key reports on guns include:
The Devil’s Trade: Guns and Violence in El Salvador (pdf)
US Department of Defense spend on guns in ‘War on Terror’
15 Mass shootings that changed the law

For more on guns please see GunBabyGun.

Today our main focus is on seeking to establish a political commitment against the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, as well as seeking to ensure that existing international treaties are adhered to.

AOAV fully supports the goals of Every Casualty, the international NGO which campaigns for the recording of victims by all parties to conflicts. As its simple mission statement notes: ‘Governments must ensure that all lives lost to armed violence, anywhere in the world, are properly recorded.’ We are also pleased to be a part of the associated Casualty Recorders Network, an international alliance which strives for best practice among its 50 members.

Explosive Violence Monitor

Explosive Violence Monitor

On 1 October 2010, AOAV’s Explosive Violence Monitor began recording global data on the immediate humanitarian impact of explosive weapons. The survey monitors English-language media reports of explosive weapons incidents in which at least one casualty was recorded. Data on the context of the incident and details of the resulting harm is logged and analysed on an ongoing basis. The data collected includes civilian and combatant casualties, the type of explosive weapon used, the means of deployment, the user of the weapon, and the location of the incident.

Over almost six years, the data collected by AOAV paints a clear and consistent picture. The vast majority of casualties of these weapons are civilians. This pattern is especially pronounced when explosive weapons are used in populated areas.

Background
AOAV’s Explosive Weapons Survey was developed to help address the gap in systematic data collection of casualties caused by the use of explosive weapons, as a contribution towards broader measuring and monitoring of all forms of armed violence.

While there are certain challenges and limitations in collecting data based on media reports, information collected by AOAV provides ongoing statistics on the problem of explosive weapons in populated areas, and enables monitoring of broad trends on a global scale. Information and data on the harm caused by explosive weapons is fundamental as a basis for improved protection of civilians, and for preventing the human suffering caused by the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.

Key Findings

  • Between 2011 and 2016 AOAV recorded 233,949 deaths and injuries from explosive weapons.
  • 76% were civilians (177,653).
  • When explosive weapons were used in populated areas 91% of the resulting casualties were civilians. This fell to 31% in attacks in non-populated areas.
  • A casualty was recorded in 111 different countries and territories.
  • The most affected countries were Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen.

See more in our report: Explosive Truths: Monitoring Explosive Violence in 2016 (pdf)

Our annual Explosive Violence Monitor Reports

Explosive Truths: Monitoring Explosive Violence in 2016
AOAV recorded a 7% increase in civilian deaths in 2016, up from 2015.

  • 45,624 deaths and injuries by explosive weapons in 2,300 incidents in 2016.
  • 32,088 were civilians – 70%.
  • 92% of those killed and injured in populated areas were civilians, compared to 25% in other areas.
  • 70 countries and territories had casualties. The worst five were Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan and Turkey.
  • IEDs caused 45% of recorded civilians casualties; Ground-launched explosive weapons caused 22%, Air-launched explosive weapons caused 31%, the remaining 2% were caused by combination types.

Unacceptable Harm – AOAV’s Explosive Violence Monitor 2015
AOAV recorded a 2% increase in civilian casualties in 2015, up from 2014.

  • 43,786 deaths and injuries by explosive weapons in 2,170 incidents in 2015.
  • 33,307 were civilians – 76%.
  • 92% of those killed and injured in populated areas were civilians, compared to 31% in other areas.
  • 64 countries and territories had casualties. The worst five were Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Nigeria and Afghanistan.
  • IEDs caused 49% of recorded civilians casualties; Ground-launched explosive weapons caused 21%, Air-launched explosive weapons caused 28%, the remaining 2% were caused by combination types.

Explosive States: Monitoring Explosive Violence in 2014
AOAV recorded a 5% increase in civilian casualties in 2014, up from 2013.

  • 41,847 total deaths and injuries in 2014.
  • 78% were civilians (32,662 civilian deaths and injuries).
  • 92% of casualties in populated areas were civilians, compared to 34% in other areas.
  • 58 countries and territories had casualties. The worst five were Iraq, Syria, Gaza, Nigeria and Pakistan.
  • IEDs caused 52% of recorded civilian casualties; Ground-launched explosive weapons caused 25%, Air-launched explosive weapons caused 18%, the remaining 5% were caused by combination types.

Explosive Events: Monitoring Explosive Violence in 2013
AOAV recorded a 15% increase in civilian casualties in 2013, up from 2012.

  • 37,809 total deaths and injuries in 2013.
  • 82% were civilians (31,076 civilian deaths and injuries).
  • 93% of casualties in populated areas were civilians, compared to 36% in other areas.
  • 58 countries and territories were affected. The worst five were Ira, Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Lebanon.
  • IEDs caused 73.4% of recorded civilians casualties; Ground-launched explosive weapons caused 16.2%, Air-launched explosive weapons caused 6.4%, the remaining 4% were caused by combination types.

An Explosive Situation: Monitoring Explosive Violence in 2012
AOAV recorded a 26% increase in civilian casualties in 2012, up from 2011.

  • 34,758 total deaths and injuries in 2012.
  • 78% were civilians (27,025 civilian deaths and injuries).
  • 91% of casualties in populated areas were civilians, compared to 32% in other areas.
  • 58 countries and territories were affected. The worst five were Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria.
  • IEDs caused 63% of recorded civilian casualties; Ground-launched explosive weapons caused 25%, Air-launched explosive weapons caused 9%, the remaining 3% were caused by combination types.

Monitoring Explosive Violence: The EVMP dataset 2011
AOAV’s first report on the impacts of explosive weapons use worldwide, analysing a sample of 2,522 incidents recorded in 2011.

  • 30,127 total deaths and injuries in 2011.
  • 71% were civilians (21,499 civilian deaths and injuries).
  • 84% of casualties in populated areas were civilians, compared to 35% in other areas.
  • 68 countries and territories were affected. The worst five were Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Libya and Somalia.

Manufactured Explosives

Manufactured Explosives

The use of manufactured explosive weapons in populated areas continues to kill and maim tens of thousands of civilians every year.

From air-dropped bombs exploding into apartment blocks in Gaza or landmines devastating lives in West Africa the use of manufactured explosive weapons in populated areas causes a predictable pattern of violence: it causes excessive civilian harm.

AOAV has been monitoring the worldwide impact of explosive weapons since 2011. Our Explosive Weapons Survey has shown that civilians make up the vast majority of deaths and injuries from explosive violence in populated areas.

In 2017, AOAV also examined the impact of explosive weapons on refugees in the report, The Refugee Explosion.

AOAV has also produced the Wide-area impact report, examining the impact of air-dropped bombs in Yemen, mortar attacks on the Syrian-Jordanian border and multiple-rocket attacks in Ukraine.

Other key reports on manufactured weapons include: Under Fire: Israel’s artillery policies scrutinised (pdf), Air Power in Afghanistan (pdf), and A Tale of Two Cities (pdf).

We are a founding member of the International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW), and carry out research and advocacy to reduce the suffering caused by these weapons.

Improvised Explosive Devices

Improvised Explosive Devices

AOAV has conducted a range of work on Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). Our research has examined IED components, impacts and data recording.

Key IED reports include:

Addressing the threat posed by IEDs examines the national, regional and global initiatives to counter IEDs.

Understanding the rising cult of the suicide bomber investigates what makes individuals give their lives, and take others, for causes propagated by these transnational terrorist groups.

Understanding the regional and transnational networks that facilitate IED use looks at the networks surrounding the largest terrorist groups

Anatomy of a Suicide Bombing, which investigates the impact of the attack at the Moon Market in Lahore, Pakistan in December 2009.

Blood on the Streets of Boston, on the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013, focusing on victim assistance.

Material Harm, an investigation into IED components and measures to prevent their spread.

Tracking IED Harm, explores current efforts to collect data on the use of IEDs globally and the value of this data.

Improvised explosive devices – A 5 year overview, is the first of a series of reports examining the impact of IEDs and the implementation of preventative measures.

Guns

Guns

Of all weapons of violence, guns cause the greatest harm. Yet, unlike other weapons types such as land mines or cluster munitions, they do not receive the same attention by the international community. Global figures are hard to come by, but it is estimated that over half a million of people die from armed violence every year and the highest proportion of these will be at the end of a gun. This is just those killed by guns, countless more are wounded, or take their lives with one.  AOAV seeks to stimulate the debate about guns and their role in violence through detailed research and focused advocacy.

Key Gun research

15 Mass shootings that changed the law, examines the impact gun massacres around the world have had on gun control.

US Department of Defense spend on guns in ‘War on Terror’, which investigates the amount spent and guns issued in the 14 years after the September 11 attacks. The report also has a particular focus on how many guns were procured for Iraq and Afghanistan during this period.

The Devil’s Trade: Guns and Violence in El Salvador (pdf), which investigates the ways in which violent groups arm and equip themselves in a country that experiences some of the world’s highest homicide rates year after year.