Protecting Civilians in Urban Warfare
Towards a political declaration to address the humanitarian harm arising from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas
The increasing urbanisation of armed conflict raises important concerns. The 2019 Report of the UN Secretary-General on the protection of civilians in armed conflict estimated that over 20,000 civilians were killed or injured by explosive weapons in 2018. The use of explosive weapons in populated areas also causes damage to critical infrastructure, bringing about long-term reverberations in civilian communities. A growing number of States have expressed the need to strengthen compliance with the existing legal framework of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and to enhance protection of civilians in urban warfare. The UN Secretary-General has called on States to develop a political declaration to address the humanitarian harm caused by the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.
On the 18 November 2019, an informal consultation on Protecting Civilians in Urban Warfare was held in Geneva, chaired by Ambassador Michael Gaffey, to contribute towards a Political Declaration to address the humanitarian harm arising from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. The consultation heard interventions from delegations including Member States, bodies from across the UN system, the International Committee of the Red Cross and civil society. The consultation initiated an inclusive and transparent process through which the international community can engage in discussions towards a political declaration to promote actions designed to enhance the protection of civilians in populated areas during conflict and reduce humanitarian harm from explosive weapons with wide area effects, through fostering behavioural change, strengthening protection of civilians and enhancing compliance with IHL.
- Please find the first Elements Paper for a Political Declaration, as circulated on the 20 January, here: EWIPA Political Declaration Elements Paper
- Please find a draft of the Political Declaration, as circulated on 17 March 2020, here: Draft Political Declaration.
The deadline for comments on the draft Political Declaration has been extended to 1 May 2020. Delegations may continue to submit their comments on the draft in writing to GenevaConsultations@dfa.ie. After the deadline of 1 May, we will prepare a revised version of the draft Political Declaration on the basis of submissions received with a view to holding face-to-face consultations in Geneva as soon as possible.
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