WILPF statement on Section 1 of the second revised draft political declaration on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas

The fourth consultations on a political declaration on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas (EWIPA) took place in Geneva, from 6–8 April. WILPF delivered the following statement on Section 1 of the declaration, on 6 April 2022.

Thank you to the mission of Ireland for hosting these consultations and inviting civil society to participate. WILPF welcomes the revised draft political declaration. It is imperative that the declaration promote a presumption against the use of EWIPA and seek to end this deadly and destructive practice.

WILPF supports the detailed comments on this revised text made by the International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW), of which WILPF is a member.

We have a few points to raise or amplify and have submitted these in writing: Paragraphs 1.2 and 1.3 should use the language that the use of EWIPA does have these impacts, rather than can have these impacts. 1.2 should add a reference to the gendered and other differentiated impacts on marginalised people from the use of EWIPA.

In 1.3, the destruction of hospitals and markets should be added to the list of affected sites. Rather than saying such destruction “further aggravates civilian suffering,” 1.3 should say it is “a major cause of civilian suffering.”

The reference to the “natural environment” in 1.3 should remove the word “natural”. In addition, 1.3 should specify that pollution can happen through weapons residues and by pollutants released by objects that are damaged or destroyed. It could also note environmental contamination from unexploded ordnance.

1.4 should separate the reference to displacement from the reference to development and unexploded ordnance, as it is not just displaced people that face the impacts described here but also people who remain.

1.4 should reference other impacts beyond the Sustainable Development Goals. In particular, it should note that the use of EWIPA impedes the enjoyment of human rights.

1.5 should say “some,” rather than “many” militaries already implement relevant polices, and it should recognise that these policies are not always practiced or implemented in ways that sufficiently prevent civilian harm. Agree with ICRC comments on stating that urgent action is needed to reduce civilian harm.

Given the negative impacts of the use of EWIPA for human rights, this paragraph should also reference international human rights law (IHRL) alongside international humanitarian law (IHL).

1.6 should call for collection of data related to disability and to race/ethnicity, in addition to sex and age. The phrase “where feasible” should be removed, in reference to sharing and making data publicly available. The phrase “efforts to” should be removed in relation to recording and tracking civilian casualties.

This paragraph should also call for collection of data on the types, locations, and effects of weapon(s) used, in order to better track which weapon systems are causing harm. This will be relevant for understanding the impacts of particular weapons as well as for making arms transfer assessments.

WILPF welcomes the improved call for research into the gendered impacts of the use of EWIPA in 1.7bis. This paragraph should also call for research into other differentiated impacts, such as on people with disabilities. We support the comments from Uruguay in this regard.

This paragraph could also be further strengthened by “urging further work to amplify, integrate, and respect” the voices of all those affected, rather than “welcoming work to empower and amplify” such voices.

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