FEEDBACK – Latin America & Carribbean States committed to tackle bombing in populated areas

Posted by: on Dec 21, 2018 | No Comments

State representatives of 23 States from Latin America and the Caribbean met 5-6 December in in Santiago, Chile, for a two-day regional meeting aimed at better protecting civilians from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.

On this occasion participants had the opportunity to deepen their knowledge on the issue and to explore together responses to better protect civilians from explosive weapons.

This regional meeting was chaired by the Chilean Minister of Foreign Affairs and co-organized by members of International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW), Humanity & Inclusion (HI), Article 36, and Seguridad Humana en Latino America y el Caribe (SEHLAC). 75 participants attended the meeting; among them, survivors of explosive weapons, human rights and humanitarian advocates, representatives of the UN and International Committee of the Red Cross together with government officials.

When inaugurating the regional meeting Carolina Valdivia, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, explained that Chile joined 12 States promoting an initiative aimed at discussing the use of explosive weapons in 2014.   As a matter of fact, relentless bombardment of towns and cities, as well as the resulting humanitarian crisis, highlight the need for action at all levels – from the operational to the international one – to better protect civilian populations from the deadly and destructive effects of explosive weapons.

Bombing and bombardment in populated areas is the major cause of civilian deaths, injuries and destruction in many current conflicts. Ending the use of heavy explosive weapons in populated areas should be the most urgent task for states concerned with the protection of civilians.

Laura Boillot, Coordinator of the International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW)

We are here to discuss the ambitious goal to achieve a broadly endorsed International Political Declaration, an initiative launched by a Core group of States among which Chile, Costa Rica and Mexico are part, and which has been a repeated call by the UN Secretary-General.

Anne Hery, Humanity & Inclusion

 

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Bombing and shelling in towns and cities has a devastating impact on civilians. In 2017, almost 32,000 civilians were recorded killed or injured by explosive weapons, with Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen having the highest numbers of civilian deaths and injuries, and with incidents of explosive violence taking place in 59 countries. As urbanization continues, the current tendency for conflict to be fought in population centers – which puts civilians at significant immediate and longer-term risk – is unlikely to change. On this matter, Jaime Chissano, Minister Plenipotentiary/ Permanent Mission of Mozambique to the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG), urged international action on explosive weapons in populated areas (EWIPA) to better protect civilians in the context of the increasing urbanization of conflict.

The workshop was a great opportunity to mobilize Latin America and Caribbean countries on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas and strengthen their role in the disarmament discussions at regional and international level. States delegates present at the meeting  have actively contributed to the discussions following previous acknowledgments and commitment to action as well as the joint statement given at the UNGA last October. Over the two days, a polyphonic presence nourished a constant debate in both plenary and working group sessions.

Statistics are alarming and justify urgent international action

Ms Paola Ramirez, Director, General Directorate for International Organizations, MFA of Mexico

The regional meeting ended with the adoption of the Santiago Communique with an agreement to support the development of an international political declaration to protect civilians from use of explosive weapons in populated areas. The communique reflect the commitment of those states present at the regional meeting to addressing the harm such weapons cause, and details the key actions states identified as necessary to address this issue at national, regional and international levels, continuing the cooperation with international organizations and civil society organizations to draw upon their relevant expertise and support.

Together with the result achieved last year in Mozambique, both the Maputo and Santiago Communique show a growing interest of states to protect civilians from the pattern of harm caused by explosive weapons in a time when armed conflicts are increasingly fought in towns and cities.

We welcome the commitment from States in Latin America and the Caribbean to develop an international commitment to set stronger standards against the use of weapons that cause the greatest harm, especially explosive weapons with wide area effects. Latin American and Caribbean States can provide meaningful leadership towards developing an international response.

Cesar Jaramillo, SEHLAC, an INEW member working across the Latin America region

 

Communique Santiago Regional Meeting on EWIPA 6 Dec