FEEDBACK – States discuss International Humanitarian Law and the use of explosive weapons at the first ‘EWIPA Talks’

Posted by: on Jun 22, 2018 | No Comments

On 14 June, along with other members of the INEW, HI participated to the first “EWIPA Talks” in Geneva, at the United Nations’ headquarter.

The dialogue was organised by the German government, with the support of the ICRC (The International Committee of the Red Cross) and the GICHD (The Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining).

The event focused on International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and the use of Explosive Weapons In Populated Areas (EWIPA), it aimed at raising awareness on the impact of the use of EWIPA and at fostering an open discussion on ways to reduce civilian harm with a focus on military practices. Delegates from 28 states, the European Union, relevant UN organisations and non-governmental organisations attended the event. The International Network on explosive Weapons was very well represented with 8 member organisations participating, and 5 of them taking the floor.

Panelists delivered different presentations from humanitarian, technical and legal perspectives and number of states took the floor expressing different views on this topic, and especially presenting own military policies and practices. Next EWIPA talks will take place in September 2018 and the final outcome of the discussions should be a working paper for the meeting of State Parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons in November.

A clear lack of emphasis on human impact during the discussions

During the meeting participants had a lively discussion with a variety of different opinions. However, it stayed very technical without much considerations related to the human consequences of the use of EWIPA. Some speakers emphasized that the International Humanitarian Law, if implemented, is enough to protect civilians ; others dismissed the references to evidence from the conflicts in Syria and Yemen as not relevant for technical discussions on this kind of weapons. Even more worrying, some participants mentioned autonomous weapons, purportedly more precise, as a potential solution.

Along with other civil society representatives, HI reminded State delegates that IHL faced considerable challenges to cope with modern urban warfare. HI representative, Alma Taslidžan Al Osta delivered a strong statement emphasizing the very concrete effects of EWIPA for affected population:

HI's Intervention EWIPA talk