As the international initiative to address the humanitarian problem of the use of explosive weapons in populated areas progresses, at October 2014’s First Committee debates Afghanistan, Austria, Costa Rica and the Netherlands noted strong concerns about explosive weapon use. Armenia and the Democratic Republic of Congo also mentioned explosive weapons in their statements, and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) called for more attention from states on this issue based on the organisation’s operational experiences.
As a country severely affected by the bombing and bombardment of populated areas, Afghanistan noted that the use of “high explosive weapons systems with wide area effects” in populated areas had caused a “dramatic increase in civilian casualties”.
Recognising the high number of civilian casualties and wider socioeconomic effects of explosive weapons in populated areas, Austria in the General Debate called on the international community to “step up its efforts” and explore ways to protect civilians from the use of these weapons, reiterating this during the Conventional Weapons debate. Austria also hosted a side event to the First Committee with INEW.
Costa Rica added its voice to the growing call for work towards an international commitment to prevent harm from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, in the country’s first public statement on the issue.
Also speaking for the first time on explosive weapons, the Netherlands welcomed discussions and called for a “focus on concrete and practical measures in order to limit casualties and damage”.
The ICRC outlined its own operational experiences dealing with the civilian harm caused by the use in populated areas of explosive weapons with a wide impact area. Calling for more attention from states to this issue, the ICRC joined the UN Secretary-General in his request to states for information on their policy and practice related to the use of explosive weapons in populated areas This information would contribute to discussion, the ICRC noted, and eventually to developing policy guidance Armenia and the DRC also noted concerns about explosive weapons during their statements.
Read more on state recognition of the issue
The full range of states and other actors who have acknowledged the harm caused by the use of explosive weapons in populated areas and called for action in public forums are listed here.