Remarks on the draft political declaration on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas

WILPF has published reflections and suggestions in response to the draft political declaration on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, circulated by the government of Ireland in March 2020.

WILPF welcomes the draft declaration, which is the latest text released in the political process hosted by Ireland to develop a new instrument on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas (EWIPA). Given the unconscionable levels of death and destruction currently caused by the bombing of towns, cities, and villages, it is imperative that the declaration be a useful tool for strengthening civilian protection and preventing human suffering.

The main challenge with the current text, however, is that it suggests that the use of EWIPA will continue. The political declaration must promote a presumption against the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas. Any policies or practices it suggests must work to end such use.

The declaration should also be more precise and robust in terms of description of the human suffering caused by the use of EWIPA. As written, it suggests that bombing in towns and cities can cause some harm to civilians. In reality, the patterns of violence, which are well documented by civil society and humanitarian agencies, show that the use of explosive weapons leads to devastating and long-lasting physical, social, psychological, environmental, and economic harm.

With this in mind, this document contains specific textual suggestions related to the draft elements.

Written by Ray Acheson • Published in April 2020 by the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom

In January 2020, WILPF published recommendations for a political declaration on EWIPA and in February 2020 we published a response to draft elements of the declaration.