FEEDBACK – Day 1 of the Regional Meeting on Protecting Civilians from the Use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas

Posted by: on Nov 27, 2017 | No Comments

Today was the first and busy day of the regional conference hosted in Maputo by HI and the government of Mozambique.

To open the meeting, Jean-Baptiste Richardier, founder of Handicap International, gave an inspiring speech. He reminded us of the great achievements of past disarmament processes, namely leading to the Ottawa convention on antipersonnel landmines and later to the Oslo convention on cluster munitions. He called all States to seize this new opportunity to enhance the protection of civilians in situation of conflicts and join the ambitious process toward a broadly endorsed International Political Declaration, see below for the full speech.

Then, we had the great honour of welcoming H.E. Mr Oldemiro Júlio Marques Balói, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Mozambique, who welcomed more than 70 participants, including 40 delegates from 20 different States.

This first day was mainly devoted to set the background of the humanitarian impacts resulting from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas and the growing number of actors concerned about this pattern of harm, experienced in a variety of contexts. The conference also provided an overview of the wider pattern of harm from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, with a focus on the damage and destruction to private property including housing, as well as essential infrastructure and critical services such as medical services and healthcare, water and sanitation systems, and education, and the resulting impact on the civilian population. It also looked at the efforts to be undertaken to reduce the risk to civilians from explosive remnants of war, and to ensure assistance to affected communities and uphold the rights of victims.

This first day was rich with interventions from experts of very diverse backgrounds: the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW), Handicap International, Action on Armed Violence, PAX, IANSA Women’s Network Nigeria, South Sudan Network on Small Arms, FORMICRES, the Centre for Peace, Security and Armed Violence Prevention of Côte D’Ivoire and the State of Mozambique, OCHA. Many interventions from the States representatives, based on their varied experiences, fed into the discussion, allowing for successful exchanges of practices.

Tomorrow, the participants will have an overview of the different types of explosive weapons that exist and are currently in use, in particular those with wide area effects, and the risks that these present to civilians. They will reflect on the next steps to better constrain the use of explosive weapons to better protect civilians.

See below an overview of the day in pictures:

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Read Jean-Baptiste Richardier’s opening statement below:

Maputo conference HI speech JBR Nov 17