As international momentum on the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas grows, Austria, with the International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW), hosted a side event to the UN General Assembly First Committee on 22 October 2014 on protecting civilians from such activity. For INEW, Steve Goose of Human Rights Watch (HRW), Maya Brehm on behalf of PAX, and Richard Moyes of Article 36 gave briefings on humanitarian and legal aspects, and the need to develop new standards. Norway reiterated its support for the agenda and reported on the last expert meeting in Oslo. Mexico also indicated its support for work on this issue. OCHA and the ICRC highlighted their work towards greater protection for civilians from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. A full report of the side event is available on INEW’s website.

Throughout the UN First Committee, representatives of INEW, which Article 36 provides coordination for, also held bilateral meetings with a range of states to discuss the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas, and the need to develop a political commitment to prevent such harm.

For the first time, INEW made a statement to the First Committee, highlighting the unacceptable harm caused by the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas. INEW urged states to recognise the issue, and to respond to the UN Secretary-General’s note verbale calling for information about state policy and practice regarding explosive weapon use.

Afghanistan, Austria, Costa Rica and the Netherlands noted strong concerns about explosive weapon use in statements to First Committee debates. Costa Rica and the Netherlands were speaking for the first time on this issue. Armenia and the Democratic Republic of Congo also mentioned explosive weapons, and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) called for more attention from states on this issue, based on the organisation’s operational experiences.

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See INEW’s briefing paper for states released ahead of the First Committee: Protecting civilians from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas

 

Posted in: Explosive weapons, Protection of civilians,