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UN Security Council Open Debate on protection of civilians: Governments should recognize impact of explosive weapons

Explosive weapons

A UN Security Council Open Debate on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict will be held on 19th January 2016. Handicap International urges States to take action against the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, which killed or injured 32,000 civilians in 2014.[1]

Destruction caused by explosive weapons in the Syrian city of Kobani.

Destruction caused by explosive weapons in the Syrian city of Kobani. | © Phillipe Houliat / Handicap International

Handicap International is calling all states to recognise the impact of explosive weapons and to endorse the UN Secretary-General’s recommendation [2] that states should refrain from the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas.

In addition, Handicap International is calling on states to support the development of an international political instrument aimed at reducing harm from the use of explosive weapons, including stopping the use in populated areas of explosive weapons with wide area effects.

“Large aircraft bombs, inaccurate artillery shells, or multiple rocket launchers are examples of explosive weapons that will have an impact over a wide area: in this case, civilian deaths and injuries are predictable. Around 50 States and territories have acknowledged the humanitarian problem of the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. Only 25 states have called for action to address the harm, and we need more states to join efforts to develop a political commitment that can help reduce harm to civilians from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas”, says Anne Héry, Director of Advocacy and Institutional Relations at Handicap International.

The bombing and shelling of towns and cities during conflict, as in Syria, Ukraine, Iraq and Yemen, can and must be stopped. Over 32,000 civilians were reported killed or injured by explosive weapons in 2014, according to Action on Armed Violence (AOAV), and the number has been increasing year on year for the last four years. AOAV also found that where explosive weapons were used in populated areas, 92% of the casualties were civilians.

Notes

The International Network on Explosive Weapons, which was co-founded by Handicap International, has circulated a briefing paper to states for the debate: http://www.inew.org/news/poc-2016.

[1] Explosive States (2015), Action on Armed Violence, https://aoav.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/AOAV-Explosive-States-monitoring-explosive-violence-in-2014.pdf
[2] Report of the Secretary-General’s on the protection of civilians in armed conflict (18 June 2015), http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/2015/453, S/2015/453

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