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Explosive weapons – the problem

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. Tens of thousands of women, men and children are killed, injured and traumatised each year by the use of explosive weapons in the neighbourhoods where they live and work: when explosive weapons are used in populated areas, around 90% of those directly killed or injured are civilians. Record numbers of people are displaced, fleeing in search of safety. Vital power, water and sanitation infrastructure is destroyed, shutting down essential services including health care and education. Schools and hospitals are damaged or destroyed, food supplies disrupted, communities and areas contaminated with unexploded ordnance are rendered unsafe, and homes uninhabitable.

The Vienna Conference

In a first important step to facilitate greater awareness of this issue and to build support for efforts to address it, the Government of Austria will host the “Vienna Conference on Protecting Civilians in Urban Warfare” from 1 to 2 October 2019. Participants in the Vienna Conference will include representatives of government, international organisations, academia, civil society organisations active in this field and other experts.

The Conference will foster a common understanding by discussing the various forms of harm caused by the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, the legal context and good examples of military practices, whilst also providing space for an exchange of views on relevant issues regarding the UN Secretary-General’s proposal to develop a political declaration.

More Information is available on the Conference website:

Background briefings

An extensive selection of reports on explosive weapons is available via the INEW Resources page. Reports can be filtered by thematic area, date of publication and author organisation. Case studies are available upon request via


For media enquiries, to join our media list or to be directed to an expert from one of our  member organisations, please contact:

Photo and video

A selection of photos and footage are available upon request via:

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How to describe the International Network on Explosive Weapons

INEW is an international network of NGOs that calls for immediate action to prevent human suffering from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. Member organisations are based around the world.

INEW is governed by a Steering Committee whose members are Action on Armed Violence, Article 36, Center for Civilians in Conflict, Handicap International, Human Rights Watch, Norwegian People’s Aid, Oxfam, PAX, Save the Children and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.

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