Views of Beit Hanoun, one of the neighborhoods most affected by the bombings in Northern Gaza, 2014 (Photo: © Yann Libessart/MSF)

Views of Beit Hanoun, one of the neighborhoods most affected by the bombings in Northern Gaza, 2014 (Photo: © Yann Libessart/MSF)

The use of explosive weapons in populated areas has been identified as a key issue on the protection of civilians agenda by states and organisations over recent years.

Military policies and procedures, applied in the context of weapon choices, are the central focus of a new paper released today by Article 36 and Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC), based on a workshop convened by our organisations earlier this year.

Operational policies and procedures provide guidance for armed forces, including over the choice of weapons and how weapons can be used. Such policies and procedures to assess, reduce, and mitigate civilian harm are an important mechanism for ensuring implementation of international humanitarian law.

Article 36 and CIVIC convened a workshop on 2-3 May 2018 to gather military and civilian perspectives, and to identify, share and discuss military policies and procedures relevant to the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.

This paper summarizes some of the key presentations and discussions from the workshop. We do not seek to suggest that all participants were in agreement on all points, but our intent is to share key considerations raised by participants and to note both the potential, and the challenges, in implementing some of the policies and tools that were discussed.

Following the structure of the workshop, this report summarises: the technical characteristics of weapons and their effects on civilians; identifying operational good practices; and some challenges and recommendations.

The workshop showed again the potential for cross-sectoral dialogue to enable critical and constructive thinking about how civilian harm might be mitigated. Whilst participants diverged on questions of which stronger procedures or policies might be required in all situations, there was broad agreement on the technical questions of how weapon choices relate to the potential for civilian harm.

Download the report

 

Posted in: Explosive weapons,