Uruguay has acknowledged the harm caused by the use of explosive weapons in populated areas (EWIPA) and committed to action on the issue.
During the August 2016 Security Council Open Debate on Children and Armed Conflict, Uruguay said the growing use of EWIPA was “reprehensible,” and condemned attacks against civilians in Syria and Yemen, including attacks against schools and hospitals. During the UN Security Council Open Debate on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict in May 2019 Uruguay called for a reduction of the proliferation of the use of EWIPA, and highlighted a regional meeting on the issue in Chile in 2018.
The Community of Latin American and Caribbean states (CELAC), of which Uruguay 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.
Uruguay endorsed the joint statement on EWIPA during 73th UN General Assembly First Committee in October 2018. The statement, delivered by Ireland, called 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. Uruguay also endorsed the joint statement on EWIPA during the 74th UN General Assembly First Committee in October 2019. The statement, also delivered by Ireland, 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, Uruguay 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.”
Uruguay participated in the Conference on the Protection of Civilians in Urban Warfare in October 2019 in Vienna, where it urged complementarity with the Santiago Communiqué.
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 Uruguay 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.
During the second round of consultations in Geneva in 2020, Uruguay made the following remarks:
- It agreed the regional communiqués should be reflected.
- It urged Section 1 to reflect the reverberating effects of the use of EWIPA.
- It suggested reflecting the impacts on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
- It suggested noting first and foremost, death and psychological trauma, then referring to destruction of infrastructure, before talking about socioeconomic and long-term effects. It also suggested reflecting socioeconomic consequences of EWIPA use.
- Uruguay suggested moving awareness raising and gender to Section 3.
- It suggested replacing “with regard to” with “with a view to avoiding” and add, to avoid unnecessary human suffering.
- It agreed with Spain’s suggestion on adding a reference or new element on protection of schools and medical facilities.
- It agreed with Peru’s suggestion that the language of 4.3 could be strengthened to ensure that every victim of an explosive weapons gets assistance and enjoys full exercise of their rights. 
In its written comments submitted in May 2020, Uruguay suggested more specificity regarding the concept and consequences of reverberating effects. It also reinforced that it shares the principle of avoiding the use of EWIPA, coinciding with the position of the region, in line with the principle of the non-use of force. In this sense, it added that “when there are no other means to achieve a given military objective, it will be required that mitigation measures are adopted to limit its effects on the chosen objective, seeking to safeguard human lives in populated areas.” Finally, it stated its support to the imperative to provide assistance to victims without discrimination and in an integrated manner, allowing unrestricted access to humanitarian aid when necessary.
In the 2021 round of consultations, Uruguay raised the following points:
- It opposed “can” in 1.3.
- It supported Switzerland’s suggestion to express that the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects becomes “a major source of concern” in 1.1 and that 1.8 should be clear of the acuteness of this issue. It also agreed with Austria’s suggestion to include that risks have “significantly” increased.
- It supported Spain’s suggestion to add “communication networks” and “education services” in 1.2.
- It suggested including other vulnerable groups in 1.8, including children.
- It echoed Mexico and Chile’s call for strengthening Section 2, in particular by starting 2.1 by “reaffirming” states’ obligations under existing law.
- It argued that Section 4 would benefit from much more detail on assistance during and after armed conflict. In particular, it suggested mentions of special assistance for children, women, and other vulnerable groups, with a focus on social reintegration. In addition, it also suggested that “make every effort to assist” be replaced with “ensure assistance is provided.”
- Uruguay suggested including the UN Secretary-General’s calls to avoid the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects, including through his joint appeal with the the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRCR). It also highlighted the UN Secretary-General’s reports on the protection of civilians, noting that they have played an important role in raising awareness around this issue and documenting harm.
- It recommended highlighting regional and similar efforts to address this issue, including the Maputo and Santiago communiqués, the 2019 Vienna Conference on Protecting Civilians, and recent EWIPA-focused seminars hosted by Germany.
In its written comments, it insisted on the importance of giving a clear message about the urgency of the humanitarian call embodied in the declaration, and asked to remove “can” from every sentence where it occurs: title, 1.1 line 2, 1.2 lines 4, 5 and 10. In addition, it included a provision regarding the Safe Schools Declaration in 2.4, and suggested that reference should be made to emergency medical assistance, physical and psychological rehabilitation, family reunification and the protection of children, women and minority and vulnerable groups for their social reintegration, among others in paragraph 4.4 regarding victims assistance.
 UN Security Council (2016). ‘UN Security Council Open Debate on Children and Armed Conflict Meeting Transcript’. https://undocs.org/en/S/PV.7753.
 May 2019 Security Council Open Debate on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict, Uruguay’s Statement. https://undocs.org/en/S/PV.8534.
 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 Debate on Conventional Weapons: Joint Statement on Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas Delivered by H.E. Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason Permanent Representative of Ireland to the United Nations, 2019, 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/.
 INEW (2019). ‘Vienna Conference Marks Turning Point as States Support Negotiation of an International Political Declaration on Explosive Weapons’. https://www.inew.org/vienna-conference-marks-turning-point-as-states-support-negotiation-of-an-international-political-declaration-on-explosive-weapons/.
 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.
 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 Uruguay to the United Nations (2021). ‘Written Comments’. https://reachingcriticalwill.org/images/documents/Disarmament-fora/ewipa/declaration/documents/Uruguay-March2020.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.
 Permanent Mission of Uruguay to the United Nations (2021). ‘Written Comments’. https://reachingcriticalwill.org/images/documents/Disarmament-fora/ewipa/declaration/documents/Uruguay-March2021.pdf.