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Vienna Military Workshop on the Implementation of the EWIPA Political Declaration

On 24-25 January, the Austrian Federal Ministry of Defence and the Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs held the Vienna Military Workshop on the Implementation of the Political Declaration on Strengthening the Protection of Civilians from the Humanitarian Consequences Arising from the Use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas.

The workshop provided a forum for the military of signatory states, as well as international experts from the UN, the ICRC, various regional organisations and civil society to discuss military policies and practices  to implement the political declaration. It also gave military from non-signatory states the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the political declaration and its implementation.

The workshop included participation of 45 signatory states and 1 observer state. Sessions looked at: 

  • Scenarios and concepts: exploring policy provisions of the Political Declaration and how they can be incorporated effectively in military strategy and planning including in doctrine;
  • Military Understanding Approached and Capabilities: examining what the military needs to know about weapons systems in use and factors for consideration around military capabilities relating to any use of explosive weapons in populated areas and understanding avoid civilian harm;
  • Military Operations: addressing operation-specific questions related to the implementation of the Political Declaration, including understanding direct and indirect effects resulting from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas and steps to mitigate this.

Amongst speakers on the high-level opening was Marwa Almbaed, a survivor of war from Syria, currently living in Germany. She shared her experience and the devastating impacts of explosive weapons in populated areas that resulted in her becoming physically disabled, “After my surgery, I started physiotherapy in the hospital. I met many young people who are now also disabled because of bombs and shootings. It was such a dark place when you see all of these young people, who should help to build this country up and now these people lost legs, arms or are paralyzed.” 

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