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Joint Statement on Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas (EWIPA) during the 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly’s First Committee – October 2018

In an unprecedented joint statement at the meeting of the UN General Assembly’s First Committee, fifty states expressed grave concern over the humanitarian harm caused by the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. The statement, delivered by Ireland, noted the “overwhelming evidence” of the humanitarian impact and devastating harm to civilians caused by use of explosive weapons which “far outlasts the conflicts in which they are used”, and highlighted in particular concerns over the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas. States also emphasised that this devastation in turn “acts as a catalyst for the displacement of people within and across borders, rendering displaced persons and refugees vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.”

The statement called for efforts to reverse the trend of high levels of civilian harm, and to enhance respect for and compliance with international humanitarian law (IHL), whilst at the same time noting that in many conflict situations, questions remain over how the existing rules are being interpreted and translated into policies and practice on the ground. Over the past several years the UN Secretary-Generals have made repeated calls on states to develop measures to address this problem, including, as the statement notes, “the development of a political declaration, the development of common standards and operational policies or through the sharing of policies and practices.” The endorsing states expressed continued support for civil society which has worked effectively over the past several years to address the challenges posed by EWIPA and committed to “remain seized of efforts to address the humanitarian harm caused […] through the achievement of a possible future political declaration and by maintaining support for other relevant initiatives, including regional conferences.”

The full joint statement is available here: https://bit.ly/2OusrmP

Statement during the June 2015 Security Council Open Debate on Children and Armed Conflict:

“In Yemen, Iraq and Palestine, children are losing their lives as the result of air strikes and the use of explosive weapons in densely populated settings.”

Statement during the August 2013 Security Council Open Debate on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict:

“My delegation also calls on other parties to the conflict to restrict themselves from employing heavy weapons and explosive munitions that have been known to inflict untold misery, deaths and injuries to civilians. “

Statement during the February 2013 Security Council Open Debate on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict:

“It has been reported that, as a rule, 84 per cent of casualties resulting from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas are civilians. As we deplore the killing of civilians, the Council should ask if we have done enough to protect them. The world will judge us on both counts — that is, what we have done and what we have not done to protect innocent civilians.”

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