Costa Rica has taken an active role in denouncing the use of explosive weapons in populated areas (EWIPA) and in working towards a political declaration on the matter.
Costa Rica has acknowledged the harm of the use of EWIPA in numerous statements, repeatedly rejecting and condemning the use of EWIPA. Costa Rica has drawn attention to the devastating humanitarian impacts of EWIPA, especially on civilians, and has called for parties to all conflicts to adhere strictly to international humanitarian law (IHL). At the UN General Assembly First Committee in 2021, Costa Rica condemned the use of EWIPA and called on member states to support a strong political declaration on strengthening the protection of civilians from humanitarian harm arising from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.
Costa Rica has also made similar statements in the following fora:
- 69th UN General Assembly First Committee Conventional Weapons Debate (2014)
- Security Council Open Debate on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict (2015)
- 70th UN General Assembly First Committee General Debate (2015)
- UN Security Council Open Debate on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict (2017)
- 73rd UN General Assembly First Committee General Debate (2018)
Costa Rica has also condemned the use of EWIPA in numerous joint statements, including as a member of the Human Security Network at both the August 2013 UN Security Council Open Debate on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict and the 2014 UN Security Council Open Debate on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict. In these statements, the Human Security Network called for all parties to an armed conflict to refrain from using explosive weapons with a wide impact area in populated areas, emphasising that these weapons are indiscriminate within their zones of detonation and therefore pose unacceptable risks to civilians.
Costa Rica also supported a statement delivered by Austria to the World Humanitarian Summit Roundtable on Upholding the Norms that Safeguard Humanity in May 2016, in which it committed to raising international awareness of EWIPA use, supporting the collection of data on direct civilian harm and the exchanging of good practices and lessons as well as look for effective measures to strengthen the respect for international humanitarian law, including an international political declaration on the use of EWIPA.
The Community of Latin American and Caribbean states (CELAC), of which Costa Rica is a member, drew attention to the harm of weapons such as cluster munitions and antipersonnel mines on civilian populations in a statement to the UN General Assembly First Commission in October 2018. The statement emphasised that the use of these weapons is in clear violation with international humanitarian law (IHL) and called on all states to take immediate measures to ameliorate the humanitarian harms which they cause.
In October 2018, Costa Rica was one of 50 states to endorse the joint statement on the use of EWIPA at the UN General Assembly First Committee, calling attention to the devastating and long-lasting humanitarian impact of the use of EWIPA and urging states to reverse the trend of high levels of civilian harm. Costa Rica also endorsed the Ireland-led joint statement during the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly’s First Committee in 2019. The statement encouraged states to participate in international efforts to address the impacts of the use of EWIPA on civilians, including by working towards the creation of an international political declaration on this issue.
Along with 22 other Latin American and Caribbean states, Costa Rica participated in the Santiago Regional Meeting on Protecting Civilians from the Use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas in 2018. The meeting produced the Santiago Communiqué in which the participating states agreed to take further action on the issue, including, but not limited to, the following:
- “Encourage collection of data and information to increase awareness and enhance knowledge about the impact of explosive weapons on civilians in populated areas;
- Avoid the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas;
- Act to enhance compliance with international humanitarian and human rights law to ensure the protection of civilians and civilian objects, including school and hospitals during armed conflict and to contribute to alleviating humanitarian harm resulting from the effects of explosive weapons in populated areas
- Develop effective measures to prevent attacks in contravention of applicable international law against hospitals and schools and protected persons in relation to them;
- Fully support the process that will lead to the negotiation and adoption of an international political declaration on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas;
- Promote bilateral and regional cooperation through sharing experiences, good practices and expertise on reducing the harm caused by explosive weapons to civilians;
- Constructively engage in discussions and initiatives at international level that could effectively provide greater protection to civilians in armed conflicts;
- Foster deeper and further engagement from the Latin American and Caribbean states and facilitate increased involvement as a group of States;
- Continue and strengthen cooperation and partnerships with international organizations and civil society organizations to draw upon their relevant expertise and support;
- Channel contributions to the draft international political declaration on the matter, as well as engage in advocacy, at national, regional and international levels.”
Costa Rica has also been an active participant in the process toward a political declaration on the use of EWIPA. In the 2019 consultations for a political declaration, Costa Rica submitted a statement delineating the elements it wished to see included in the declaration, which included the following suggestions:
- “to reflect the commitment to avoid the use of explosive weapons in populated and urban environments due to the great impact and harm caused to civilians and vital infrastructure.
- to recognize the direct and indirect impact in urban areas to the damages to the infrastructure (transport, health, electrical, sanitary, educational, etc.)
- to recognize the psychological effects for the victims and their families, as well as the inhabitants of the affected communities.
- to underline the need to act in compliance with international humanitarian law and international human rights law in order to protect civilians and essential basic infrastructure, particularly schools and hospitals, and to due reduce risks to civilians and avoid the indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks.
- To promote effective measures to respect the international humanitarian law and to strengthen its compliance developed to prevent attacks in violation of international humanitarian law.
- to promote cooperation and exchange of good practices to reduce the damage caused by explosive weapons in populated and urban environments, at bilateral and multilateral level.
- to promote information gathering to increase knowledge, dissemination and visibility of the indirect and indirect harm caused by explosive weapons in populated and urban environments.
- to recognise that effective and timely attention and assistance should be given to victims of explosive weapons in populated and urban settings, in all its aspects – physical, psychological, and economic.
- to ensure that the recognition of assistance will be extended to the families of the victims and affected communities.”
During the consultations, Costa Rica emphasised that the declaration should recognise the humanitarian impacts of EWIPA use, especially of explosive weapons with wide area effects. As part of this recognition, the declaration should address indirect, long-term, and reverberating effects of EWIPA, such as displacement, disruption of essential services, increased poverty, destruction of the environment, contamination through explosive remnants of war, psychological trauma, disabilities, and similar issues.
 Permanent Mission of Costa Rica to the United Nations (2021). ‘First Committee Statement’. https://reachingcriticalwill.org/images/documents/Disarmament-fora/1com/1com21/statements/5Oct_CostaRica.pdf.
 Permanent Mission of Costa Rica to the United Nations (2014). ‘First Committee Statement–Conventional Weapons cluster’. https://reachingcriticalwill.org/images/documents/Disarmament-fora/1com/1com14/statements/22Oct_CostaRica.pdf.
 UN Security Council (2015). ‘UN Security Council Debate on Children and Armed Conflict Transcript.’ https://undocs.org/en/S/PV.7466.
 Permanent Mission of Costa Rica to the United Nations (2015). ‘First Committee Statement–General Debate’. https://reachingcriticalwill.org/images/documents/Disarmament-fora/1com/1com15/statements/12October_CostaRica.pdf.
 UN Security Council (2017). ‘UN Security Council Open Debate on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict Meeting Transcript’. https://undocs.org/en/S/PV.7951
 Permanent Mission of Costa Rica to the United Nations (2018). ‘First Committee Statement–General Debate’. https://reachingcriticalwill.org/images/documents/Disarmament-fora/1com/1com18/statements/11Oct_CostaRica.pdf.
 UN Security Council, S/PV.6917 (2013). ‘UN Security Council Debate on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict Meeting Transcript.’ https://undocs.org/en/S/PV.6917 (Resumption1).
 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.
 CELAC (2018). ‘UNGA73 First Committee Statement’. https://reachingcriticalwill.org/images/documents/Disarmament-fora/1com/1com18/statements/10Oct_CELAC.pdf.
 Permanent Mission of Ireland to the United Nations (2018). ‘UNGA73 First Committee Joint Statement on Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas (EWIPA)’. https://reachingcriticalwill.org/images/documents/Disarmament-fora/1com/1com18/statements/25Oct_EWIPA.pdf.
 INEW (2019). ‘Seventy-one States call for Action on Impact of Explosive Weapons in Joint Statement to UN General Assembly’. https://www.inew.org/seventy-one-states-call-for-action-on-impact-of-explosive-weapons-in-joint-statement-to-un-general-assembly/.
 Permanent Mission of Ireland to the United Nations (2019). ‘UNGA74 First Committee Joint Statement on Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas (EWIPA)’. https://article36.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/UNGA74-joint-statement-on-explosive-weapons-in-populated-areas.pdf.
 INEW (2018). ‘Santiago Communiqué’. https://www.inew.org/communique-from-regional-meeting-on-protecting-civilians-from-the-use-of-explosive-weapons-in-populated-areas-santiago-chile/.
 Permanent Mission of Costa Rica to the United Nations, ‘Costa Rica Statement 1st Informal Consultation on Protecting Civilians in Urban Warfare’. https://www.dfa.ie/media/dfa/ourrolepolicies/peaceandsecurity/ewipa/Costa-Rica-Written-Submission—18-November-2019.pdf.
 Reaching Critical Will (2019). ‘Towards a Political Declaration on the Use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas: States Need to Ensure that Expressed Commitments Translate into Real Impacts on the Ground’. https://reachingcriticalwill.org/news/latest-news/14451-towards-a-political-declaration-on-the-use-of-explosive-weapons-in-populated-areas-states-need-to-ensure-that-expressed-commitments-translate-into-real-impacts-on-the-ground.