The use of explosive weapons in populated areas

The use of explosive weapons (e.g. mortars, rockets, artillery shells, aircraft bombs, improvised explosive devices) in populated areas inevitably leads to the disproportionate death and injury of civilians and destruction to civilian infrastructure. Reaching Critical Will represents WILPF on the steering group of the International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW). This network of non-governmental organisations calls for immediate action to prevent human suffering from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas (EWIPA), including through the development of a political declaration and other policy and operational measures. WILPF supports INEW's call for an end to the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas and has published several studies on the gendered impacts of EWIPA, the links between the international arms trade and EWIPA, and the human rights implications of EWIPA.

Intergovernmental efforts on EWIPA

The use of EWIPA has been discussed at the UN Security Council's Protection of Civilians and its Children and Armed Conflict debates, as well as at the UN General Assembly First Committee, the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, and other forums. Over 100 states, several multilateral organisations, and consecutive UN Secretary-Generals and other high-level UN officials, have expressed concern about the humanitarian harm caused by the use of EWIPA. Most recently, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the UN Secretary-General issued a joint appeal calling on conflict parties to avoid using EWIPA.

Austria hosted an international conference on the use of EWIPA in 2015 and a conference in October 2019 focusing on protecting civilians in urban conflict. Since then, Ireland hosted five consultations in Geneva towards the development of a political declaration to address the humanitarian harm arising from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. The negotiations on the text of the declaration were concluded in June 2022, and a signing ceremony was held in Dublin in November 2022, when 83 states signed the Political Declaration.