Draft Political Declaration on Strengthening the Protection of Civilians from the Humanitarian Consequences Arising from the Use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas (REV 2) – World

Part A: Preamble

Division 1

1.1 As armed conflicts prolong, become more complex and more urbanized, the risks for civilians have increased. This is a major source of concern and needs to be addressed. The causes of these risks involve a range of factors, including the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, and pose complex challenges for the protection of civilians.

1.2 The use of explosive weapons can have a devastating effect on civilians and civilian objects in populated areas. The effects of blast, debris and fragmentation cause death and injury, including lifelong disabilities. Beyond these direct effects, civilian populations are exposed to severe and long-lasting indirect effects – also known as “ripple effects”. Many of these indirect effects arise from the damage or destruction of critical civilian infrastructure. When critical civilian infrastructure, such as energy, food, water and sanitation systems, is damaged or destroyed, the provision of basic needs and essential services, such as health care and education, is interrupted.
These services are often interconnected and therefore damage to one component or service can adversely affect services elsewhere, causing damage to civilians that can extend far beyond the impact zone of a armed.

1.3. The destruction of homes, schools and cultural heritage sites further aggravates the suffering of civilians, and the natural environment can also be affected by the use of explosive weapons, leading to contamination of the air, soil, water and other resources. The use of explosive weapons in populated areas can also cause psychological and psychosocial harm to civilians.

1.4 These effects often result in the displacement of people within and across borders and have serious implications for progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals. After the conduct of hostilities, unexploded ordnance impedes the return of displaced persons and causes casualties long after the end of hostilities.

1.5 Many armies already implement operational policies and practices designed to avoid, and in any event minimize, harm to civilians, which include a detailed understanding of the anticipated effects of explosive weapons on a military target and its surroundings and the associated risk to civilians in populated areas. areas. However, practical improvements are possible to achieve full and universal implementation and respect of obligations under international humanitarian law, as well as the application and sharing of good practices. Expanding and strengthening initiatives aimed at sharing military policies and practices on the protection of civilians can contribute to the promotion and better implementation of international humanitarian law.

1.6 We recognize the importance of efforts to record and track civilian casualties, and the use of all practical measures to ensure appropriate data collection, including, where possible, data disaggregated by sex and age. Wherever possible, this data should be shared and made public. Better data on civilian casualties would help inform policies designed to avoid, and in any case minimize, harm to civilians, assist efforts to investigate civilian harm, support efforts to determine or establish responsibility and improve feedback processes in the armed forces.

1.7 We emphasize the imperative to address the short and long term humanitarian consequences resulting from armed conflict involving the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. We welcome the ongoing work of the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and civil society on the long-term humanitarian impacts and consequences arising from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.

1.7bis We also welcome work to empower and amplify the voices of all concerned, including women and girls, and encourage further research into the gendered impacts of the use of explosive weapons.

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