On 18 November, states will gather in Dublin, Ireland, for a conference to endorse the new Political Declaration on Strengthening the Protection of Civilians from the Humanitarian Consequences Arising from the Use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas. The declaration represents the culmination of the combined efforts – spanning more than a decade – of states, the United Nations (UN), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW) and other civil society organizations, to address the widespread harm to civilians resulting from the use of explosive weapons in towns, cities and other populated areas.
The declaration is a landmark achievement with the potential to significantly strengthen the protection of civilians. States that endorse the declaration will commit to undertake a series of important measures. These include imposing limits on the use of explosive weapons to avoid civilian harm and prevent damage civilian infrastructure such as housing and hospitals. Endorser states will also commit to address a key concern of the UN, ICRC and INEW: the need to prevent or limit the short- and long-term effects of explosive weapons on civilians when militaries plan and execute attacks. The use of explosive weapons doesn’t just kill and injure civilians at the time of use. It also has catastrophic long-term impacts on civilians resulting from the destruction of the key infrastructure that is essential for their survival.
To date, more than 60 states have indicated their intention to endorse the declaration in Dublin and more are expected. These states will be expected to move expeditiously to begin the process of implementation and to interpret it in ways that are most protective to civilians. While states are likely to move at different speeds in giving practical effect to the commitments in the declaration, the direction of travel is clear. The political declaration sets an agenda for positive change and the progressive realisation of strengthened protection of civilians from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. And it sets an expectation that states will act in good faith and implement their commitments.
The day before the Dublin conference, INEW and Dóchas (the Irish Association of Non-Governmental Development Organisations) are organising a Civil Society Forum. The Forum will bring together states, international organisations and civil society with a view to ensuring that the endorsement of the political declaration is just the beginning of a long-term, committed and effective process of work.
Recognising that building stronger standards and driving forward significant change will require cooperation between different actors and stakeholders, the Forum will encourage open dialogue and interaction. It will also be an opportunity to celebrate the work accomplished ahead of and during negotiations, and encourage stakeholders and parties to reflect on the remaining work and the next steps to be taken.
All eyes are now on Dublin to see which states use their Power of the Pen and endorse the political declaration next week! Follow INEW during the Civil Society Forum and the Adoption Conference on @explosiveweapon.
🖋️Do you know the Power of The Pen? Today we ask states to announce their intention to sign onto the political declaration in Dublin on 18 Nov. Print a sign and join us in announcing your commitment to protect civilians from #EWIPA.🪧https://t.co/D3Prhf4WcC#StopBombingCivilians pic.twitter.com/QK0nQtKYPW
— INEW (@explosiveweapon) October 18, 2022