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Explosive weapons, gender, and protection of civilians

On 27 January 2015, the UN Security Council will hold an Open Debate on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict. The debate’s focus will be on women, peace and security, which means WILPF will seek to highlight the intersections between women’s rights and the gendered impacts of the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.

In advance of this debate, the International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW) distributed a briefing paper to state representatives highlighting the implications of explosive weapons use for civilian protection and making recommendations for political work on ending the bombing of towns and cities. The briefing paper gives updates on current progress on the issue, and also addresses the debate’s focus of women, peace and security, drawing on WILPF’s report Women and Explosive Weapons.

The INEW briefing paper urges states to:

  • Endorse the UN Secretary-General’s recommendation that states should avoid the use in populated areas of explosive weapons with wide area effects.[3]
  • Indicate support for the development of an international commitment to stop the use in populated areas of explosive weapons with wide area effects, and work to achieve the incorporation of women’s perspectives and participation in policy work on this and other disarmament areas.

Beyond the January debate, states should also:

  • Share their national policies and practices related to the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, including through their representatives to the UN in response to the UN Secretary General’s note verbale, ref. OCHA/NV/188/2014 of 1 October 2014. The note verbale asks Member States to make available relevant policy and practice that governs or limits the use of explosive weapons with a wide area effect in populated areas.
  • Collect and make available to the UN and other relevant actors information on civilian harm resulting from the use of explosive weapons including gender and age disaggregated data, to better understand the impacts of such use.
  • Recognize the rights of victims and survivors and ensure that assistance is gender and age sensitive.

The Open Debate presents an opportunity for states to express support for international commitment to stop the use in populated areas of explosive weapons with wide area effects and to provide stronger protection to civilians – men, women and children – in the future.