Focus on: the consequences of explosive violence at the German parliamentarian

Posted by: on Mar 26, 2019 | No Comments

On 20 March 2019, the dramatic consequences of the use of explosive weapons in populated areas were brought into the focus of the German parliament in Berlin.

The impact of explosive violence exposed

In the afternoon, the opening of the new HI Germany exhibition “Erschüttert. Einschläge die alles ändern” (Shocked. Impacts that change everything) took place in the parliament building. The building, which is not only used for parliament meetings but also a place of interest for visitors from all over Germany, will host the exhibition for three weeks. In 12 portraits, Till Mayer, a German photo journalist who is closely cooperating with HI, tells the stories of very different people from countries such as Iraq, Syria, Democratic Republic of Congo or Ukraine, who are suffering from the consequences of explosive violence. At the entrance, a big banner shows the parliament building destroyed by bombings in 1945 aside the ruins of present Iraq. It stands beside a portrait of a 97 year old German lady who experienced bombings as a young mother and nurse during the Second World War. Both these banners remind the Germans of their historical experience and responsibility.

In front of 80 visitors – most of them from the parliament or NGO networks – HI Germany director Inez Kipfer-Didavi introduced in the opening event, together with Till Mayer, the exhibition and its important topic. During his opening speech, the vice president of the parliament, Thomas Oppermann mentioned the commitment in the coalition contract of the present government and said:

“It is difficult, but most important to build up binding rules of humanitarian law for this current/new patterns of war.”

Till Mayer showing the exhibition to Thomas Oppermann and other MoP (© Julia Nowak)
Till Mayer showing the exhibition to Thomas Oppermann and other MoP (© Julia Nowak)

Public hearing on political response to tackle the use of explosive weapons in populated areas

Right after the opening of “Erschüttert” the parliamentary committee on disarmament (co-organizer of the exhibition) held a public hearing to discuss about the political responses to face the problem of the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. 5 of the 6 parties represented in the German parliament had invited experts to inform the committee members and visitors about humanitarian, legal and political aspects. Among the experts, were also HI Germany advocacy manager Eva Maria Fischer, another representative of the International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW) Rasmus Sandvoll Weschke and an expert in International Humanitarian Law of the German Red Cross.  

Different questions were discussed such as how to deal with terrorists hiding within civilians, the importance of weapon exports or the question of whether more precise and expensive weapons would increase the imbalance of power in favor of rich countries. As the representatives of HI and INEW strongly advocated for a political declaration on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, many concrete questions on the current process were also asked and the debate ended in a light consensus that a political declaration could be an adequate tool to face the problem. However different opinions were still voiced, regarding whether the declaration should formulate an end of the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas and whether it should include regulations of humanitarian needs.

Representatives of the Social Democrats SPD, the Greens and the Left expressed their support for a political declaration and an end to the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas.

These events in Germany also gave a starting signal for the new international parliamentarian appeal of HI and INEW. As first supporters, the three representatives of SPD, Green and Left, mentioned above, signed the appeal and posted their pictures on social networks. Let’s hope that many more will follow – from Germany and other countries!

The parliamentarians endorsing the INEW appeal Katja Keul, Matthias Höhn and Karl-Heinz Brunner with Rasmus Sandvoll Weschke and Eva Maria Fischer (© Julia Nowak)
The parliamentarians endorsing the INEW appeal Katja Keul, Matthias Höhn and Karl-Heinz Brunner with Rasmus Sandvoll Weschke and Eva Maria Fischer (© Julia Nowak)