Vienna conference on protecting civilians in urban warfare

The Vienna conference on protecting civilians in urban warfare was held 1–2 October 2019. This conference aimed to foster common understanding by discussing the various forms of harm caused by the use of EWIPA, the legal context, and  examples of military practices. It also provided space for an exchange of views on relevant issues regarding the UN Secretary-General’s proposal to develop a political declaration on this issue.


Report of the conference

WILPF Statement to the conference


Conference programme

Official summary

Issues paper


High-level opening panel

Alexander Schallenberg, Federal Minister for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs

Izumi Nakamitsu, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs

Gilles Carbonnier, Vice-President of the International Committee of the Red Cross

Panel 1: Direct civilian harm caused by EWIPA

Immediate and short term humanitarian consequences, Hansjörg Strohmeyer, Chief of Policy Development and Studies Branch, UNOCHA 

Impact on the human body and types of injuries, including injuries to children, disability and victim assistance, Marco Baldan, Senior Surgeon, ICRC

Gender, age, psychological harm, Alma Al-Osta, Disarmament and Protection of Civilians Advocacy Manager, Humanity & Inclusion ,

Data, Iain Overton, Executive Director, Action on Armed Violence

Panel 2: Indirect civilian harm and reverberating effects caused by EWIPA

Destruction of critical civilian infrastructure and impact on essential urban services, Michael Talhami, Urban Services Adviser, Water and Habitat Unit, ICRC

Displacement and refugees, Ole Solvang, Director, Partnerships and Policy, Norwegian Refugee Council

Development, Sara Sekkenes, UN Resident Coordinator in LAO PDR,

Impact on children, Michael Copland, Coordinator Global Child Protection Area of Responsibility, UNICEF

Panel 3: Characteristics of explosive weapons and challenges of the urban context

Technical characteristics of explosive weapons, Stefano Toscano, Director, GICHD

Factors that create wide area effects, Roos Boer, Programme Leader Humanitarian Disarmament, PAX

Indirect fire, challenges and risk mitigation, N.R. Jenzen-Jones, Director, Armament Research Services

Weapon-target matching and other military considerations, John Spencer, Chair of Urban Warfare Studies, Modern War Institute, United States Military Academy

Non-state actors, Alain Délétroz, Director General, Geneva Call

Panel 4: International law and the use of explosive weapons

Overview of relevant issues under IHL, Kathleen Lawand, Head, Arms Unit, Legal Division, ICRC

Wide impact explosive weapons and legal concerns, Maya Brehm, Advisor, Article 36 

The view of a practitioner in operations Brig. Lisa Ferris, Director of Defence Legal Services, New Zealand Defence Force

The compliance framework for the G5-Sahel Joint Force, Baptiste Martin, Director G-5 Sahel Project, UN OHCHR 

Panel 5: Military practice and policy

Military practice and policy in Iraq, Sahr Muhammedally, MENA & South Asia Director, CIVIC

Afghanistan’s Protection of Civilians policy, Abdul Hai Rauf, Deputy Minister of Defence, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

ISAF experience, Marc Di Paolo, Director, Defence Institution and Capacity Building for the Operations Division, NATO

AMISOM experience, Maj. Gen. (ret.) Simon Karanja, former Deputy Force Commander of AMISOM

Protection of civilians and targeting, collateral damage estimation and battle damage assessment, Simon Bagshaw, Senior Policy Advisor, Policy Development and Studies Branch, UNOCHA

Session: The way forward—issues to be considered in a political declaration

The Agenda for Disarmament and EWIPA, Ms. Izumi Nakamitsu, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs

The function of political declarations, Ms. Bonnie Docherty, Associate Director of Armed Conflict & Civilian Protection, International Human Rights Clinic, Harvard Law School

Why a political declaration?
Amb. Pedro Comissário, Mozambique
Ms. Pamela Moraga, Head of Disarmament Section Geneva, Chile
Mr. Zahid Rastam, Principal Assistant Secretary, Malaysia
Ms. Orlaith Fitzmaurice, Director for Disarmament and Non-proliferation, Ireland