Explosive weapons

As the conflict in Syria enters its third year, reports on the situation civilians are facing, highlight the devastating impacts of the use of explosive weapons in populated areas and highlight the need to develop stronger international standards to restrict and prohibit the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.

The UN Secretary-General as well as other leading UN officials has recently brought the problems that arise from the use of explosive weapons to the attention of UN Member States and called for further action on this issue.

The Secretary-General (UNSG) has asked Member States to make available to the United Nations and other relevant actors “information on civilian harm resulting from the use of explosive weapons” and “policy statements that outline the conditions under which explosive weapons might be used in populated areas.”

These recommendations have been made in the UNSG’s protection of civilians reports issued in November 2010 and May 2012. Several governments, including Australia, Austria, Germany and Norway have called for more systematic consideration of this issue. Around 30 countries have expressed concern over the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, including 15 states at the most recent Security Council debate on the protection of civilians from armed conflict that took place on 16 February 2013.

In follow-up to the UN Secretary-General’s request, INEW has written to all UN Member States seeking information on the use of explosive weapons relevant to improving the protection of civilians, including policies for protecting friendly forces, methodologies for making collateral damage estimates, and policies for gathering and using data on civilian casualties.

INEW will be compiling a summary of responses and has asked states to respond by 1 July 2013.

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