Today INEW launches its International Parliamentary Appeal calling on members of legislative bodies such as Parliament and Congress to urgently support action to prevent human suffering from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.
Armed conflicts are increasingly conducted among civilian populations and with weapon systems designed for open battlefields, presenting serious challenges to the protection of civilians in armed conflicts today. Bombing and shelling in towns and cities has a devastating impact on civilians: when explosive weapons are used in populated areas, approximately 91% of those reported killed and injured are likely to be civilians. are affected as a result of damage to essential infrastructure and services such as hospitals, schools, water and sanitation systems. This pattern of harm from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, as experienced in Afghanistan, Cote d’Ivoire, Gaza, Iraq, Syria, Ukraine, Yemen and elsewhere over the past decade, has become a central and urgent humanitarian policy concern.
Ongoing human suffering has highlighted the need for action at all levels – from the operational to the international – to better protect civilian populations from the deadly and destructive effects of explosive weapons. The UN and ICRC have long maintained their calls to avoid the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas, with successive UN Secretary-Generals repeatedly reiterating their call on states to engage constructively in efforts to develop an international political declaration.
The same day, the German Parliament held a public hearing on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas at which speakers from INEW were invited to present. The discussion ranged from more general queries about urban warfare to questions on the application of international humanitarian law, with speakers emphasising that the humanitarian harms caused by the use of explosive weapons are not only caused by intentional attacks, but by the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects more broadly, even if they are directed against a legitimate military target. To coincide with the parliamentary hearing, Humanity and Inclusion (HI) organised an exhibition on the harms caused by explosive weapons which was well-visited, including by parliamentarians and their staff.
Parliamentarians now have a vital role to play in enhancing the protection of civilians in armed conflict by supporting efforts internationally and nationally to stop the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas. INEW is urging legislators to endorse the International Parliamentary Appeal which calls on states to develop an international political declaration to stop the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas and to assist affected people and communities.
The full text of the appeal and suggested actions can be found here.