On the 23rd April 2024, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosted a conference to review the implementation of the Political Declaration on Strengthening the Protection of Civilians from the Humanitarian Consequences Arising from the Use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas. The conference was held in Oslo, Norway and marked the first formal gathering of states, civil society, the UN and ICRC since the Dublin Conference in November 2022 when the Declaration was formally adopted by 83 states. Since then, Jordan, North Macedonia, and Montenegro have also endorsed the Declaration.  

Senior officials and experts from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defence, UN agencies, ICRC, civil society organisations and academia gathered to review and discuss the progress made in implementing the Declaration. The conference also provided a vital opportunity for more states to join the Declaration and commit to strengthening the protection of civilians from explosive weapons.  

As outlined in Article 36’s ‘Implementing the Political Declaration on the Use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas: Key Areas and Implementing Actions’ policy brief, endorsing the Declaration is a recognition of the harms experienced by civilians due to the use of explosive weapons in populated areas and a promise to work to prevent and address future harms. Providing spaces for constructive conversations, such as the conference in Oslo, and promoting good examples of policy and practice are key to giving practical effect to the Declaration’s commitments and its successful implementation. 

Before the conference, the International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW) and the Norwegian Red Cross co-convened a Protection Forum. The Forum provided an open and interactive space to discuss how to meet the needs of conflict-affected communities and foster dialogue to strengthen the protection of civilians from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. The Forum also provided a vital platform to bring to the fore the voices of people with lived experience. 

In November 2023, in the run-up to the Oslo Conference, Article 36, in collaboration with Airwars convened a workshop to explore military perspectives on the implementation of the Declaration. The workshop aimed to identify, and raise awareness of, changes to policies and practices that are necessary for the effective implementation of the operational provisions of the Declaration. The resulting report summarises participant reflections during the workshop and outlines recommendations that are essential to building a shared understanding amongst key stakeholders about the practical actions that are required of states and their armed forces to strengthen the protection of civilians in line with the Declaration. The report’s findings and recommendations were discussed during the Oslo conference. 

Military policies and practices in relation to the implementation of the Declaration were also discussed in one of two thematic workshops that were organised as an extension of the Oslo conference and the Protection Forum. The workshop, organised and facilitated by Article 36, provided participants with the opportunity to engage in substantive discussions on key areas of implementation.  

The use of explosive weapons in populated areas has devastating humanitarian consequences. The Declaration reflects the endorsing States’ commitment to review, develop and improve existing policies and practices to achieve stronger protection of civilians in armed conflict. The Oslo Conference provided an important opportunity to advance conversations around the challenges and practical steps required to advance the commitments contained in the Declaration to ensure the reduction of harm to civilians from explosive weapons. 

A strong outcome statement and a list of recommendations were issued at the close of the Oslo conference that highlights the efforts states have taken to translate the commitments contained within the Declaration into tangible action and emphasised the need for the continued promotion of the Declaration. The next international conference to address the implementation of the Declaration will be held in Costa Rica in 2025.  


Additional resources and publications regarding the implementation of the Declaration are linked below:   

Report on a Military Workshop on the use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas

Implementing the Political Declaration on the Use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas: Key Areas and Implementing Actions

Implementation Framework


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