In November 2023, Article 36 collaborated with Airwars, to convene a workshop to explore military perspectives on 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 

This report – Report on a Military Workshop on the use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areassummarises 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 workshop engaged military participants in discussions on changes to operational policies and practice regarding the use of explosive weapons during military operations in populated areas, with reference to the Declaration. Using a scenario-based approach, 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, ahead of the first official follow-up meeting of states and civil society which will be held in Oslo later this month.  

Participants in the workshop included active and retired members of national armed forces and defence ministry officials from 8 Western states, as well as participants from NATO, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and civil society organisations.  

Key findings 

A summary of the key recommendations and good practices outlined during the workshop are summarised below: 

  • Efforts to disseminate and promote engagement with the Declaration at the national level are required within relevant ministries and departments as well as the armed forces.  
  • A process of policy review, revision and development by signatory states is an essential element of the implementation process.  
  • To promote and implement the Declaration, it is vital to include both leaders at the strategic/political level as well as commanders at the operational level.  
  • Commanders have a key role to play in ensuring civilian harm is mitigated, particularly from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.  
  • The Declaration’s central commitment points towards national-level policies and doctrines as the framework through which it should be implemented.  
  • Weapon selection, including a proper understanding of the technical effects of different weapons and how those effects will be influenced by the built environment, is critical to mitigating civilian harm from explosive weapons.   
  • States should critically review their approaches to and capacity for undertaking civilian harm tracking in line with established good practice.  

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


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

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

Article 36 Podcast Episode 12: A political declaration: How the explosive weapons issue will shift norms 

Implementation Framework 

Explosive Weapons with Wide Area Effects: A Deadly Choice in Populated Areas

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