The government of Ireland is leading a process to develop a political declaration on protecting civilians from explosive weapons. On 29 January 2021 they released the latest draft of the text.

The International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW), which Article 36 coordinates, has published our comments on the text today, including changes we would propose to strengthen its provisions and humanitarian protection measures.

Overall, we appreciate the government of Ireland’s leadership and efforts to develop the political declaration text, and believe the draft text provides a good basis for further discussion. We think it holds the potential to be an effective tool for strengthening the protection of civilians from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.

Our key comments, which are elaborated in our paper are:

  • The use of explosive weapons in populated areas causes a well-documented pattern of harm in conflicts around the world, consistently causing high levels of civilian death and injury, psychological distress, and damage and destruction to buildings and infrastructure. As such, there needs to be a stronger and more accurate description and acknowledgement of the civilian harm and suffering that has resulted from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas and which continues to occur, in the preamble. The corresponding commitments also need to be strengthened to address these harms.
  • The concept of explosive weapons with wide area effects is not sufficiently addressed or described in the text, its scope is too narrow, and the operative commitments to address wide area effects should be strengthened.

    The core value of the political declaration is to establish a tool that can drive effective actions to protect civilians from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, and to establish an inclusive framework for implementation. This should be more effectively represented in the text.

Download INEW’s comments paper

INEW comments on the draft political declaration text (29 January 2021)

February 2021

Policy commentary



Featured image: Gori, Georgia, © Marc Garlasco

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