Ireland convened an online webinar on 7 September on the Protection of Civilians in Urban Warfare: Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas: Issues, Policy and Practice. In opening remarks, Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney expressed concern that the use of explosive weapons in populated areas has severe consequences for civilians. Whilst he regretted that it had not been possible to yet finalise the text of the political declaration, nor welcome states to Dublin to endorse the declaration, he reminded participants that “much more can and must be done” and that we should make good use of this extra time.
The webinar, chaired by Ambassador Michael Gaffey, Ireland’s Permanent Representative in Geneva and chair of the consultations on the political declaration, explained that whilst Ireland remains committed to developing a political response to this issue, it was still not possible to say when or how states, international organisations and civil society will be able to meet again to resume and finish the negotiation on the text.
The webinar consisted of three panels, a high level panel, a session on framing and contextualising the issue, and a session on addressing the issue through political commitments.
The high-level panel saw support from key partners in the process towards a particular policy outcome, with UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Izumi Nakamitsu as well as Gilles Carbonnier restated calls upon states and other armed actors to avoid the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas. Renata Dwan of UNIDIR, said much can be done by states in the area of military policy and practice towards protecting civilians from explosive weapons.
The subsequent two sessions discussed issues around framing of the issue, including the approach taken by INEW and others to first and foremost address the humanitarian problem, and benefits of having a clear and narrow focus on explosive weapons use in towns and cities. Other panelists described how a declaration could be implemented in practice, with positive examples of policy and practical changes by militaries to reduce harm to civilian populations.
Click here to see the webinar agenda
Check out INEW’s Twitter feed for live-tweets from the event.