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MPs in Europe against bombing of civilians

Explosive weapons
International

More than 170 members of 4 national parliaments call on governments to make a firm and concrete commitment to the fight against the bombing in populated areas.

© HI

The call follows an online conference organised by HI, on 27th May, that was attended by 80 participants to mobilise States against the bombing of civilians.

39 MPs from Austria, Belgium, France, Germany and the United Kingdom, along with a total of 80 participants attended an interparliamentary conference on Thursday 27th May to mobilise the support of their States for an ambitious international agreement to address the harm caused by the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.

172 MPs sign joint statement

At the end of the conference, 172 parliamentarians (from Belgium, France, Germany, and Luxembourg) signed a joint statement to call their governments to "support the development of an international political declaration to strengthen the protection of civilians from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, and to strengthen assistance to victims of such practices." This statement is open for further signatures.

"80 participants attended the conference today, and more than 170 parliamentarians signed the join statement calling their governments to commit to the current diplomatic process to negotiate a strong political declaration against the use of explosive weapons in populated areas," said Alma Taslidžan Al-Osta, Disarmament Advocacy Manager.

"We are pleased by the strong commitment of so many lawmakers. European governments should not shy away from their responsibilities: In armed conflicts, 9 out of 10 victims of explosive violence in urban areas are civilians. It is unacceptable. States have an historic opportunity to make a change.”

Final stage of diplomatic process

The draft of the international agreement against the use of explosive weapons in populated areas is at its final negotiation stage between states, UN agencies, international organisations and civil society.  A final round of negotiations will be held in autumn. The international agreement is expected to be finalised by the end of 2021.

This diplomatic process started in October 2019. So far, more than 70 States have been involved.

The Secretary General of the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross have called on States to avoid any use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas. This would create a presumption against the use of heavy explosive weapons in populated areas.

This solution is opposed by some States like France and the United Kingdom.  HI is calling on reluctant governments to change their position on the wording of the declaration and to make a contribution that will effectively protect civilians who live in conflict areas.

A major humanitarian issue

Bombing continues to destroy the lives of thousands of civilians in Syria, Yemen and more recently in Gazap and Israel. Between 2011 and 2020, 91% of victims of explosive weapons in populated areas were civilians compared to 27% in non-populated areas. The use of explosive weapons in urban areas has systematic humanitarian consequences for civilian populations.

Explosive weapons kill and injure civilians, cause severe psychological trauma, destroy vital infrastructure such as schools, health centres and roads, and force people to flee their homes. Bombing also leaves behind explosive remnants of war that threaten the lives of civilians long after fighting is over. It is more vital than ever to adopt a strong political declaration to protect civilians.

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Date published: 27/05/21

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