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  • State
  • Acknowledged harm
  • Committed to action

Qatar has acknowledged the harm caused by the use of explosive weapons in populated areas (EWIPA) and committed to take action on this issue. 


Qatar addressed the issue of EWIPA at sessions of the UN Security Council Open Debate on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict in 2013, as a member of the Arab Group,[1] as well as in 2014, as part of the ‘Friends of Syria’ group where the group of states issued a communiqué.[2]

As a member of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, Qatar aligned with World Humanitarian Summit Core Commitments to ‘Uphold the Norms that Safeguard Humanity’ in May 2016, including 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.”[3]

Qatar participated in the Vienna Conference on the Protection of Civilians in Urban Warfare in October 2019.[4]

Political declaration

Qatar participated in the consultations for a political declaration on the use of EWIPA in 2020, submitting a written contribution with the following suggestions:

  1. “Focus must be made on the issue of explosive weapons in populated areas (as opposed to urban wars or the protection of civilians in general). 
  2. Recognizing the relationship between the large-scale effects of explosive weapons and the risk of harm to civilians. 
  3. Highlighting the indirect effects of explosive weapons in populated areas, while recognizing that damage to vital infrastructure may disrupt basic services and ultimately affect a large portion of the civilian population. 
  4. It should contain a clear and express commitment to avoid the use of explosive weapons of large-scale effects in populated areas. 
  5. Establishing a mechanism to monitor its implementation, as is the case in the Safe Schools Declaration, which obliges states to meet regularly to review its implementation. 
  6. Obliging states to take measures through political obligations and good practices in a number of areas to enhance the protection of civilians against the use of explosive weapons in populated areas regardless of whether international humanitarian law considers these policies and good practices required (i.e. reaffirmation of the obligation to comply with International Humanitarian Law in relation to the use of explosive weapons in populated areas). In any case, these political obligations and practical measures will undoubtedly facilitate compliance with International Humanitarian Law.”[5]


As a member of the Arab Group, Qatar participated in the round of consultations that took place in 2021 in Geneva.[6] In that occasion, the Arab Group highlighted the following points:

  • There is no agreed definition of “populated areas”.
  • The political declaration overlooks use of human shields.
  • Existing international humanitarian law (IHL) rules and principles must be applied fully and effectively to protect civilians. 
  • The aim of this declaration is to strengthen protection of civilians through enhancing existing IHL, not by establishing new rules, concepts, or mechanisms. 
  • The use of explosive weapons with wide area effects is already subject to IHL rules of distinction, proportionality, precaution and the contradiction with these principles, not the weapons themselves, is what makes some attacks unlawful.
  • The Arab Group expressed concern that the declaration would stigmatise explosive weapons use.
    • Any reference to non-state actors should be confined to IHL, without prejudice of self-determination and resistance to foreign occupation and aggression.
  • “There is no agreed definition of the terms “Populated Areas” and “reverberating effects”, which are unclear and open to conflicting interpretations. The term “critical civilian infrastructure” that appears in paragraph 1.2 similarly lacks clarity. Moreover, it is not clear which are the “other relevant stakeholders” mentioned in paragraph 4.1 that are to be engaged in international cooperation and assistance efforts among armed forces. The Group wishes to highlight that explosive remnants of war are already regulated under an existing framework”. [7]


[1] UN Security Council (2013). ‘UN Security Council Open Debate on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict Meeting Transcript’.

[2]  INEW (2014). ‘INEW Briefing Paper Ahead of UNSC Protection of Civilians Debate, 12 February 2014.

[3] Agenda for Humanity. ‘Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)’.

[4] INEW (2019). ‘Vienna Conference Marks Turning Point as States Support Negotiation of an International Political Declaration on Explosive Weapons’. 

[5] Permanent Mission of Qatar to the United Nations (2020). ‘Memorandum of the National Committee for International Humanitarian Law on the Adoption of a Political Declaration to Strengthen the Protection of Civilians from the Use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas’.

[6] 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’.

[7] Arab Group (2021). ‘Statement–EWIPA Political Declaration Informal Consultations’.

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