Canada has acknowledged the harm caused by and been an advocate against the use of explosive weapons in populated areas (EWIPA). Canada’s focus, however, has been on the implementation of international humanitarian law (IHL) rather than supporting the development of new commitments to specifically restrict the use of EWIPA.
Canada spoke against the use of EWIPA at the UN Security Council Open Debate on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict in 2014  and at the General Debate of the 72nd UN General Assembly First Committee in 2017. In both statements, Canada drew attention to the devastating humanitarian impacts of EWIPA use on civilians, particularly on children, humanitarian workers, and medical personnel.
At the UN Security Council Open Debate War in Cities: Protection of Civilians in Urban Settings on 25 January 2022, the Group of Friends of the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict, of which Canada is a member, called on states to enhance the protection of civilians, including from the use of EWIPA, and took note of the ongoing consultations to develop a political declaration on this subject.
Canada is actively involved in the process for a political declaration on the use of EWIPA. It has delivered statements during the consultations of the political declaration in 2019, 2020, and 2021.
In the 2019 consultations for a draft political declaration, Canada emphasised that there should be a focus on promoting IHL as a sufficient existing framework to effectively regulate the use of EWIPA without the need to create new obligations. It warned that introducing new terminology or concepts that do not exist in IHL would weaken existing legal obligations. Canada also called for better dialogue with UN agencies and international and national humanitarian organisations, including the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), to better understand civilian protection needs. Canada called for a “population-centric approach” that takes into account diverse needs, including those from women, girls, people with disabilities, and LGBTQI+ persons.
Canada reaffirmed many of these positions during the 2020 consultations on the draft political declaration. Canada made several suggestions to ensure that the political declaration emphasised engagement with local communities. It suggested adding language to “underscore the importance of supporting civilian agency including through community-based approaches to protection as part of broader protection efforts.”
Canada has suggested qualifying when, in its view, the use of EWIPA is problematic, such as by adding the term “when used indiscriminately” in relation to the use of EWIPA and by voicing its concern about the indiscriminate use of explosive weapons, not their use inherently.
At the March 2021 consultations for a political declaration, Canada again expressed support for the addition of qualifiers throughout the text. It indicated that it only wanted the declaration to address what it refers to as “indiscriminate use” of explosive weapons and supported qualifiers throughout the text indicating that harm “can” potentially arise from the use of EWIPA, saying that otherwise the political declaration would stigmatise explosive weapons generally. Canada also proposed weakening the core commitment of the declaration by emphasising that it should not go beyond the obligations of IHL.
 UN Security Council (2014). ‘Security Council Open Debate on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict Meeting Transcript. https://undocs.org/en/S/PV.7109.
 Ray Acheson, Reaching Critical Will (2022). ‘UN Security Council debates war in cities and the protection of civilians’. https://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/news/latest-news/16009-un-security-council-debates-war-in-cities-and-the-protection-of-civilians.
 Permanent Mission of Canada to the United Nations (2019). ‘Canada’s Intervention Towards a Political Declaration to Address the Humanitarian Harm Arising from the use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas’. https://www.dfa.ie/media/dfa/ourrolepolicies/peaceandsecurity/ewipa/Canada-Written-Submission—18-November-2019.pdf.
 Ray Acheson, Reaching Critical Will (2020). ‘Impacts, not intentionality: the imperative of focusing on the effects of explosive weapons in a political declaration’. https://reachingcriticalwill.org/news/latest-news/14658-impacts-not-intentionality-the-imperative-of-focusing-on-the-effects-of-explosive-weapons-in-a-political-declaration.
 Permanent Mission of Canada to the United Nations (2020). ‘Canada’s Written Submission to the Consultation Process’. https://www.dfa.ie/media/dfa/ourrolepolicies/peaceandsecurity/ewipa/Canada-Written-Submission—17-March-2020.pdf.
 Jillian Rafferty, Katrin Geyer, and Ray Acheson, Reaching Critical Will (2021). ‘Report on the March 2021 consultations on a political declaration on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas’. https://reachingcriticalwill.org/news/latest-news/15213-report-on-the-march-2021-consultations-on-a-political-declaration-on-the-use-of-explosive-weapons-in-populated-areas.
 Permanent Mission of Canada to the United Nations (2021). ‘Canada’s Written Submission to the Consultation Process’. https://www.dfa.ie/media/dfa/ourrolepolicies/peaceandsecurity/submissions3-5march/Canada—Written-Submission-to-the-EWIPA-Political-Declaration-Consultation-Process,-3-5-March-2021.pdf.