Majority of States signal support for action against bombing populated areas

Urban Warfare

[Editor’s Note: We paused when we read the headline in the press release below, suggesting a kind of triumph that a majority of states might “signal support for action against bombing in populated areas”…]

Majority of States signal support for action against bombing populated areas
Humanity & Inclusion Press Release
October 02, 2019
Vienna, Austria—A historic, two-day meeting in Vienna attracted 133 States to discuss the civilian suffering caused by bombing and shelling in urban areas, as well as the technical, legal and military aspects of urban warfare. “The Vienna Conference on Protecting Civilians in Urban Warfare” marked an important success, as a majority of States announced their willingness to work on a political declaration to end the human traumas caused by the use of explosive weapons in populated areas…

…Armed conflicts are increasingly fought in populated areas—mainly cities. The impact of the use of explosive weapons is devastating for civilians. According to Action on Armed Violence (AOAV), 20,384 civilians were killed or injured by explosive weapons in 2018 alone. When explosive weapons are used in populated areas, 90% of the victims are civilians.

The urgency to right this wrong was clear on the final day, when a majority of States at the conference publicly stated their willingness to negotiate a political declaration to end human suffering caused by the use of explosive weapons.

“We are very happy to see States finally acting, and ready to negotiate a political declaration—something we have been requesting for a long time,” Anne Héry notes. “We will constructively participate in this process, providing evidence from affected areas, and reinforcing our global, public campaigns to ensure that the declaration brings an end to the use of heavy explosive weapons in populated areas, and improve support to affected people.”

The use of explosive weapons in populated areas also leads to the destruction of essential infrastructure like houses, hospitals, schools, water and electricity supply systems, leaves massive unexploded ordnance contamination, and is one of the key drivers of population displacement.

In the next six months, discussions will be decisive to protect millions of civilians living in war zones, or fleeing their homes or even their countries as conflict approaches. The next phase of the negotiation process kicks off on Nov. 18, in Geneva. This meeting should result in a set date for a Conference in early 2020, when a political declaration should open for endorsements. Humanity & Inclusion, alongside fellow INEW members, will continue to meet with States to convince them to fully support a strong political declaration to end the use of heavy explosive weapons in populated areas and to support the affected people…