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The problem

Explosive weapons use blast and fragmentation to kill and injure people in the area where they detonate, as well as to damage objects, buildings and infrastructure. When used in populated areas they tend to cause high levels of harm to individuals and communities. Destruction of infrastructure vital to the civilian population, including water and sanitation, housing, schools and hospitals, results in a pattern of wider, long term suffering. Victims and survivors of explosive weapons can face long-term challenges of disability, psychological harm, and social and economic exclusion.

The latest data collected on incidents of explosive violence by INEW member Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) recorded 43,786 deaths and injuries from explosive weapons in 2015, 76% of whom were civilians. When these weapons were used in populated areas, civilians made up 92% of casualties.


INEW supports a package of actions at a national and international level to address this pattern of harm. States and other actors should:

  • Acknowledge that use of explosive weapons in populated areas tends to cause severe harm to individuals and communities and furthers suffering by damaging vital infrastructure;
  • Strive to avoid such harm and suffering in any situation, review and strengthen national policies and practices on use of explosive weapons and gather and make available relevant data;
  • Work for full realisation of the rights of victims and survivors;
  • Develop stronger international standards, including certain prohibitions and restrictions on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.

The use of IEDs in populated areas, often by non-state armed groups, is a major cause of harm.  Although IEDs are used in attacks on military targets they are often used directly against civilian populations.  Regardless of the political dynamics to these attacks, this pattern should be recognized as presenting a severe humanitarian problem.

For most states explosive weapons are tools of the military – they are not considered appropriate for use in law enforcement because of the risk they pose to the public. INEW promotes recognition that the use of explosive weapons by a state amongst its own population is a concrete indicator of a crisis unfolding.


Below, materials from INEW members and others document and analyse the impact of explosive weapons and give technical, policy and legal analysis of the problem – and its solutions.

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