ALERT – UN and ICRC issue a joint appeal: Civilian devastation and suffering must stop!

Posted by: on Sep 19, 2019 | No Comments

The Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, and the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Peter Maurer, issued yesterday an appeal highlighting the devastating impact of explosive weapons on the lives of civilians.

They also affirm their strong support for a political declaration to end the harm caused by the use of explosive weapons. Two weeks before the Vienna Conference on explosive weapons in urban warfare, HI welcomes this historical statement as a turning point in this fight, calling on States to commit to find political solutions to this major humanitarian issue.

 As the world urbanizes, so does armed conflict. When cities are bombed and shelled – whether by airstrikes, rockets, artillery or improvised explosive devices – civilians overwhelmingly bear the brunt”, says the appeal of Secretary-General of the United Nations António Guterres and President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Peter Maurer.  The call also expresses support for a political declaration to end the harm caused by the use of explosive weapons: “Civilian devastation and suffering must stop.”

“The joint statement is a turning point in the fight against the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. It comes from the two major International Humanitarian Law authorities: the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross. It is the first joint statement recognising the use of explosive weapons in populated areas as a major scourge for civilians and a major humanitarian priority. It officially acknowledges how serious the situation is for civilians, recognising that they represent 90% of the victims of the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.” Says Anne Héry, HI Advocacy Director.

On October 1st and 2nd, Austria will gather States at the Vienna Conference to find a political solution to end the harm caused to civilians by bombing in urban warfare. This recognition by States of the urgency to act is a first victory for civil society! HI – co-founder of the International Network of Explosive Weapons (INEW) – has been campaigning for more than 5 years against bombing in populated areas.

In the wake of the Vienna Conference, negotiations will lead to the drafting of a political declaration against the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. This diplomatic phase should close with a conference early in 2020, when the political declaration will open for signatures. During this diplomatic process, HI and partners of the International Network of Explosive Weapons (INEW) will dialog with States to convince them to fully commit to the cause.

Published two weeks before the Vienna Conference, the appeal calls for the responsibility of States to find a political solution to better protect civilians in conflict and end civilian devastation and suffering caused by bombing and shelling. The upcoming Vienna conference will be an important event on this major issue. The UN and the ICIRC have sent a strong message to States to attend the conference and participate in the official diplomatic negotiations that will lead to a political declaration against the use of explosive weapons in populated areas in 2020.

“HI has been advocating against bombing in populated for more than 5 years. This week, we have published a report, The Waiting List, that documents the long-term consequences on civilians of the use of explosive weapons in populated areas in the Syrian conflict, says Anne Héry. The war machine has inflicted tremendous suffering, carpet-bombing entire neighbourhoods and targeting vital civilian infrastructures. Cities are contaminated whilst roads, electricity networks, water and sewage facilities are damaged. The health system is decimated while medical and rehabilitation needs have increased.  This pattern of war must be stopped.”


Link to the report ENG

Link to the executive summary ENG

Link to the testimony of Farah ENG

Link to the types of injuries caused by explosive weapons ENG

THE WAITING LIST study_Final WEB