Ending the use of explosive weapons in populated areas
The use of explosive weapons in populated areas, or the bombing of towns, cities, and villages, leads to vast humanitarian harm, destruction of civilian infrastructure, and environmental degradation. Reaching Critical Will supports efforts to end this inhumane and illegal practice, including through the development of an international political declaration and by holding governments and companies to account for arms transfers that lead to such bombing.
The use of explosive weapons (e.g. mortars, rockets, artillery shells, aircraft bombs, and improvised explosive devices) in populated areas inevitably leads to the disproportionate death and injury of civilians and destruction to civilian infrastructure. Reverberating effects
Reaching Critical Will represents WILPF on the steering group of the International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW). This network of non-governmental organisations calls for immediate action to prevent human suffering from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. We call on states and other actors to make a commitment that explosive weapons with wide area effects will not be used in populated areas. As part of this commitment, states will need to review national policy and practice and make changes that will strengthen the protection of civilians. They should also support stronger data-gathering on the use and impact of explosive weapons, including age-, sex-, and disability-disaggregated recording of casualties and records of the type and impacts of weapons used. And they should recognise the rights of survivors, families of those killed or injured, and affected communities, and ensure a response to their short- and long-term needs.
To this end, WILPF is engaging in the political process initiated by the government of Ireland in 2019 to create a political declaration on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. RCW is reporting on the consultations, is collecting statements and documents from the process, and has issued recommendations for the declaration as well as a response to the draft elements circulated by Ireland in January 2020.
At WILPF, we also believe that states need to prevent those that use explosive weapons in populated areas from acquiring arms. Even if a state commits itself to not using such weapons in populated areas, arms transfers they approve may end up being used to bomb civilians. Regardless of whether or not states are party to the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), they must not transfer weapons to countries that are bombing or shelling in villages, towns, cities, or other populated areas. Thus, we urge the political declaration on explosive weapons to reflect this and for all states to end arms transfers that contribute the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.
WILPF published comments and suggestions in response to draft elements for a political declaration on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, circulated by the government of Ireland in January 2020.
As a contribution to the diplomatic process to address humanitarian harm from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, WILPF has published these recommendations for the development of a political declaration.
WILPF has released a comprehensive report about the gendered impacts of military operations in Mosul, Iraq. During this operation, all parties to the conflict displayed disregard for the human rights of the local civilian populations, including through the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.
This briefing paper explores the potential effects that stricter prohibitions against arms transfers and the development of new commitments against the use of explosive weapons in populated weapons could have on reducing humanitarian harm and the drivers of displacement.
This publication seeks to draw attention to some of the unique impacts on women that explosive weapons have when used in populated areas. The publication argues that it is important to ensure that women affected by the use of explosive weapons receive the same assistance and legal protection as men, and that they are seen as active agents of change rather than only as victims.
Together with WILPF's Human Rights programme, Reaching Critical Will prepared three briefs to the Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights on the transfer of weapons from France, Sweden, and the United Kingdom to Saudi Arabia and the use of explosive weapons in populated areas in Yemen.
Explosive weapons and human rights, 2 June 2016
Bloodbath in Syria: wherefrom the weapons?, 25 January 2016
States move to stop bombing and bombardment in towns and cities, 24 September 2015
Ending the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, 17 September 2015