On Thursday 17 November, survivors of armed conflict, activists, and civil society organizations, alongside representatives of governments, UN agencies, and the International Committee of the Red Cross, will gather in Dublin at a Global Civil Society Forum on limiting the suffering caused by the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. The Forum will be hosted by the International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW) and Dóchas, the Irish network for international development and humanitarian organisations.
The aim of the Forum is twofold: first to hear testimonies from survivors of armed conflict and other experts on the severe humanitarian impact of explosive weapons on cities, towns, and other populated areas; and second, to explore how to attain the greatest possible protection of civilians from the International Political Declaration on Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas, to be signed at the Dublin Castle the next day. The Forum will be an opportunity to celebrate the long path towards achieving the Declaration, while also taking stock of the long-term work that must be done to ensure the words on paper become a reality for civilians living in conflict. Recognising that building stronger standards and driving forward significant change will require cooperation between different actors and stakeholders, and in the spirit of collaboration that has characterized the negotiations on the Declaration, the Forum will encourage open dialogue and interaction.
Speakers at the forum include Nujeen Mustafa, a Syrian survivor of armed conflict and activist who fled her homeland aged 16 (author of the book “A girl from Aleppo”), and Dr Hamza Al-Kateab, a doctor who ran one of the last functioning hospitals in Aleppo and who features in the award-winning film “For Sama,” who will be speaking by video. States, international NGOs, civil society representatives including people who have lived through bombing and shelling in conflict affected areas such as Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Ethiopia, and Pakistan will all contribute to the forum.
In addition to the panel sessions, INEW member organisation, Humanity and Inclusion, will present the first ever ‘Protection of Civilians Award’ to Irish civil servants for their extensive contributions to protecting civilians in armed conflict worldwide via their leadership on the diplomatic process on the Declaration. A uniquely constructed replica of a ‘Bombed out School’ installation by Save the Children and INEW will also be presented at the forum.
The full programme of the Civil Society Forum is available here.