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The Vienna Conference on Protecting Civilians in Urban Warfare

International attention has grown over the last decade on the humanitarian problems caused by the bombing and shelling of towns and cities. Now, on 1 and 2 October, Governments, UN agencies, international organisations and civil society will meet at the Vienna Conference on Protecting Civilians in Urban Warfare to discuss the issue and potential ways to address it.

Unexploded MK 82 bomb dropped by the Coalition, which was subsequently rigged by IS and turned into a large IED, surrounded by six mortars locally produced by IS.
© Amnesty International

Against a backdrop of growing urbanization and an increase in urban warfare, the harm caused by the use of explosive weapons in populated areas has become a central humanitarian policy concern, with successive UN Secretary-Generals, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and an ever-growing number of states highlighting the grave human costs and the urgent need better to protect civilians.

As recognition of the urgent need to better protect civilians from the harm caused by the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas grows, the Vienna Conference will draw attention to the urgent need to better protect civilians in urban warfare and is expected to initiate a political track of work whereby states will soon commence negotiations on the development of an international political declaration.

INEW, in line with the call of the UN Secretary-General, strongly supports the urgent development of such a political declaration to reduce the harms caused by the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. (See here for a short briefing on the elements we believe should be included such a declaration). It can not only help to set a stronger international standard, but also serve as a tool to drive forward positive policies and practice at a national level as well as building a community of positive practice.

For more information, see:

An extensive selection of reports on explosive weapons is also available via the INEW Resources page.

Website by David Abbott