Ecuador has acknowledged the harm caused by the use of explosive weapons in populated areas (EWIPA) and committed to take action on this issue.
The Community of Latin American and Caribbean states (CELAC), of which Ecuador 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.
Along with 22 other Latin American and Caribbean states, Ecuador 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.”
Ecuador reiterated its condemnation for the use of EWIPA at the 76th UN General Assembly First Committee in 2021. It also reaffirmed the commitments from the Santiago Communiqué in a statement during the UN Security Council Open Debate on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict in May 2019. The statement emphasised that the humanitarian impact of the use of explosive weapons on civilian populations cannot be overlooked and reiterated its support for “an international political declaration that would enable and promote the best protection of civilians, mainly women, children, the elderly and persons with disabilities, in armed conflicts by preventing the use of long-range explosive weapons in populated areas.”
Ecuador also endorsed the Ireland-led joint statement during the 74th United Nations General Assembly First Committee in 2019. The statement recognised the devastating humanitarian effects of the use EWIPA and 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.
At the UN Security Council Open Debate War in Cities: Protection of Civilians in Urban Settings on 25 January 2022, Ecuador called on states to step up their efforts against the use of EWIPA and condemned such use.
Ecuador is also an active participant in the negotiations toward a political declaration on the use of EWIPA. In the first informal consultations on the declaration in November 2019, Ecuador delivered a joint statement with seven other Latin American and Caribbean states, which delineated the following as key elements of a political declaration on EWIPA:
- “Acknowledgement that the use of explosive weapons of wide area effects in populated areas is likely to have significant humanitarian consequences, seriously compromising the protection of civilians.
- Commit states to avoid the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects and disproportionate impact on civilians in populated areas, and to develop operational policies and procedures in this regard.
- Promote greater compliance with international humanitarian and human rights law, in particular through full compliance with the principles of humanity, proportionality, distinction and precautions in attack; Commit states to enable humanitarian access that is secure and sustainable.
- Recognize the rights of victims and affected communities, providing them with adequate assistance.
- Identify, develop and exchange best practices in relation to weapon-target matching, targeting procedures, planning and training; including the difficulty in directing inaccurate weapons against specific objectives in populated areas and take into account foreseeable indirect “reverberating” effects on essential urban services in the proportionality assessment.
- Encourage collection of disaggregated data (sex and age) and information to increase awareness and enhance knowledge about the impact of explosive weapons on civilians in populated areas, thus describing the different impacts on a factual-based approach.
- Promote bilateral and regional cooperation through sharing experiences, good practices and expertise on reducing the harm caused by explosive weapons to civilians, building a community of good practices.
- Strengthen cooperation and partnerships with international organizations and civil society organizations to draw upon their relevant expertise and support.”
During the consultations, Ecuador supported the notion that a political declaration on EWIPA use 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. Ecuador also called for the declaration to recognise the rights of victims and affected communities and to provide adequate victim assistance to those affected, including family members of victims of use of EWIPA.
During the second consultation sessions in 2020, Ecuador reaffirmed many of the positions it had taken in the previous consultation, such as the need to include a commitment to victim assistance and recognition of the reverberating effects of EWIPA. Ecuador strengthened its positions on describing the effects of EWIPA, calling on the declaration to clearly describe use of EWIPA as cause of civilian harm and damage and include discussion of the socioeconomic impacts of EWIPA use. Ecuador also said a gendered perspective and intergenerational approach should be reflected within the declaration, including involvement of local communities and on victim assistance.
In 2021, Ecuador participated in the negotiation process, largely reiterating these positions. Ecuador called for the declaration to include a clear commitment to meaningfully improve the protection of civilians from the grave harms caused by the use of EWIPA. Ecuador consistently argued for the inclusion of an avoidance policy and presumption of non-use of EWIPA. Ecuador also opposed the use of qualifiers throughout the text of the declaration in phrases such as “harms which can arise from the use of EWIPA.”
 CELAC (2018). ‘UNGA73 First Committee Statement’. https://reachingcriticalwill.org/images/documents/Disarmament-fora/1com/1com18/statements/10Oct_CELAC.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 Ecuador to the United Nations (2021). ‘UNGA76 First Committee Statement.’ https://reachingcriticalwill.org/images/documents/Disarmament-fora/1com/1com21/statements/12Oct_Ecuador.pdf.
 UN Security Council, (2019). ‘UN Security Council Open Debate on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict Meeting Transcript’. https://www.undocs.org/pdf?symbol=en/s/pv.8534.
 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.
 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.
 Latin American and Caribbean states (2019). ‘Join Statement First Informal Consultations’. https://www.dfa.ie/media/dfa/ourrolepolicies/peaceandsecurity/ewipa/Joint-Statement-of-LATAM-and-Caribbean-States-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.
 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 Ecuador to the United Nations (2020). ‘Written Submission’. https://www.dfa.ie/media/dfa/ourrolepolicies/peaceandsecurity/ewipa/Ecuador-Written-Submission—17-March-2020.pdf.
 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.