On 17 March 2020, Ireland released the first draft for a political declaration on protecting civilians from the use of explosive weapons, a process that they have been leading since last year.

This paper contains the International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW)’s key comments on the draft political declaration text. These comments highlight the most significant changes that INEW would like to see in the next version in order to provide stronger humanitarian protections.

Based on the input received, the text has been positively improved since the elements paper. The most important changes required to develop this draft political declaration into a valuable tool for civilian protection, are:

  • A commitment to avoid the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas (3.3), and a corresponding preamble section which describes how ‘wide area effects’ are created – and emphasises the direct relationship between wide area effects and the risk of harm to civilians.
  • Clearer descriptions of the human suffering and humanitarian impacts from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas (preamble), and stronger humanitarian provisions to address these through collecting and sharing data on the impact and weapon use (4.2) and providing victim assistance (4.4).
  • The text would benefit from more ‘human’ language and lay terms to describe the civilian harm and enable a broad audience to understand the problem, and a shorter text with less duplication in its commitments which would help to promote the key operative actions to address this problem.

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INEW key advocacy points on the Draft Political Declaration on Strengthening the Protection of Civilians from Humanitarian Harm arising from the use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas, April 2020

Article 36 coordinates the International Network on Explosive Weapons, an international network of NGOs that calls for immediate action to prevent human suffering from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.


Featured image: Destruction in Kobani, Syria © HI