Germany has acknowledged the harm caused by the use of explosive weapons in populated areas (EWIPA) and committed to action on the matter, and actively participates in the process for a political declaration on EWIPA.
Germany condemned the use of EWIPA during the May 2019 UN Security Council Open Debate on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict. It stressed the need to draw red lines on the matter and brought attention to a dialogue series in Geneva which it initiated that brings together military practitioners, diplomats, and humanitarian actors to work out best practices on how to minimise civilian casualties in urban theatres of conflict. Germany has made similar statements at the General Debate of the UN General Assembly First Committee in 2017, and 2018, as well as the UN Security Council Open Debate on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict in 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015.
As a member of the European Union (EU), Germany has signed onto numerous joint statements condemning the use of EWIPA and the harms it causes to civilians and civilian objects, including during the UN Security Council Open Debate on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict in 2011, 2012, and 2013. The EU also spoke out against the use of EWIPA during the General Debate of the 72nd UN General Assembly First Committee in 2017, recognising its potential impact on civilians and calling on all parties to armed conflict to fully comply with international humanitarian law (IHL). At the UN Security Council Open Debate War in Cities: Protection of Civilians in Urban Settings on 25 January 2022, the EU expressed concern with the indiscriminate use of EWIPA, including near hospitals, schools, and universities.
Germany aligned with the World Humanitarian Summit Core Commitments to ‘Uphold the Norms that Safeguard Humanity’ as an EU member state in May 2016. This included the commitment “to promote and enhance the protection of civilians and civilian objects, especially in the conduct of hostilities, for instance by working to prevent civilian harm resulting from the use of wide-area explosive weapons in populated areas, and by sparing civilian infrastructure from military use in the conduct of military operations.”
In October 2018, Germany 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. Germany also endorsed the joint statement during the 74th of the United Nations General Assembly 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.
On June 2018, the Mission of Germany convened at the UN in Geneva the first of two planned workshops on “Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas: Humanitarian, Technical, Legal and Military Considerations.” The second meeting was hosted in September 2018, supported by the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining.
Germany is actively involved in the process for a political declaration on the use of EWIPA. It has delivered statements during the consultations for a political declaration in 2019, 2020, and 2021.
In 2019, Germany advocated for a political declaration that highlights the importance of compliance with IHL, spells out the relevant principles and that promotes the development and sharing of good military practices. Germany also supported a call for the adoption and review of policies and practices—including in military doctrines, tactical instructions, rules of engagement, the testing and development of new weapons, education, and other measures—to enhance protection of civilians and compliance with IHL. France, Germany, and the UK also submitted a joint statement to the consultations delineating the key elements they would like to see reflected in a political declaration. These included the consideration of non-state actors and the inclusion of a clear distinction between the legitimate use of EWIPA in specific conflict situations and indiscriminate use that breaches IHL.
In 2020, Germany again participated in the consultations toward a political declaration. Germany suggested the declaration could set up a voluntary working group for interested states to develop a “toolbox” for military good practices, to be used as a basis for trainings with armed forces. It said it would be willing to contribute to financing such trainings. It also welcomed the “strong call” to “make every effort” regarding victim assistance.
During the 2021 consultations, Germany reaffirmed many of its past positions. Germany called for the political declaration to acknowledge that lack of compliance with IHL is a primary cause for civilian casualties and harm of civilian infrastructure. Germany argued that, as a result, the declaration should condemn blatant disregard for IHL by state and non-state actors. Germany emphasised that the declaration, particularly the preamble, should call on non-state armed groups to adhere to IHL. It also reiterated its focus on victim assistance and said that the sharing of military practices is essential to reducing harm.
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 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.
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 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.
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 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.
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