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UNSC open debate on the protection of civilians in armed conflict

On 22 May, the UN Security Council held an open debate on the Secretary-General’s recent report on the protection of civilians in armed conflict. As well as the UN Secretary-General, the President of the ICRC also gave some strong opening remarks on this theme, calling on parties to conflict to adhere to an “avoidance principle”, suggesting non-use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas due to the high risk of indiscriminate effects. This echoed the Secretary-General’s report, which suggested that this should include a clear presumption against the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas. The report also proposed that militaries revise and update their national policies and procedures for urban warfare to better protect civilians, and the opportunity this offers to build more support for standards against the use of heavy explosive weapons in populated areas.

Around 35 states raised concern over the use of explosive weapons in populated areas in their national statements in the open debate. Most drew attention to the impact on civilians, including deaths and injuries, as well as the impact on housing, infrastructure and services, and as a driver of displacement.

To read more on the Secretary-General’s report and the Security Council debate on the protection of civilians, see INEW’s recent web post.

See here for the statements made by states on explosive weapons in populated areas.

Read the UN Secretary-General’s report on the protection of civilians in armed conflict: http://undocs.org/s/2018/462

Read the full ICRC statement to the open debate: https://bit.ly/2khffoO

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