ALERT – Bombing in populated areas: A majority of states now recognize the urgency to act

Posted by: on Oct 3, 2019 | No Comments

133 states gathered for two days at the Vienna Conference “Protecting Civilians in Urban Warfare”. A majority of attendants announced that they were ready to work on a political declaration.

A crucial event towards a political declaration

133 states had followed the invitation of Austria to hear about the human suffering caused to civilians by bombing and shelling in urban areas and discuss technical, legal and military aspects of urban warfare. The Vienna conference was the first of this scope and a crucial event to address the devastating humanitarian consequences of the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. The big number of states attending the Vienna Conference is already a great success after years of awareness raising by some dedicated states and organisations like HI and other members of the International Network of Explosive Weapons (INEW). A majority of states present at the conference have now recognized the urgency to act: They are willing to negotiate in the coming months on a political declaration to end human suffering caused by the use of explosive weapons.

HI unveiled the monument to the unknown civilian

HI strongly and visually reminded the attendants of the conference of civil suffering with a Memorial for the “unknown civilian” placed in the conference venue. The president of the conference Thomas Hajnoczi together with the Vice-President of ICRC Gilles Carbonnier, Hansjörg Strohmeyer from UNOCHA and HI’s advocacy director Anne Héry laid down flowers at the monument to pay tribute to all victims of explosive weapons. The Memorial was already installed in Paris last week and will be presented also in other places in the coming weeks.

HI call for citizens’ support to mobilize parliamentarians in 7 countries (Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland, United Kingdom), and ensure that governments will engage to the cause. 

Decisive negotiations to come on a political declaration

The discussions that will take place in the 6 months to come will be decisive to protect millions of civilians living in war zones.

The coming negotiation process starting with a first meeting on 18 November in Geneva should close with a Conference scheduled early 2020, when a political declaration should open for endorsements. HI and members of the International Network of Explosive Weapons (INEW) will continue to dialogue with States to convince them to fully support a strong political declaration to end the use of heavy explosive weapons in populated areas and support the affected people.

INEW delegation at the Vienna Conference October 2019

INEW delegation at the Vienna Conference ‘Protecting Civilians in Urban Warfare’, October 2019. Including HI representatives, Anne Héry, director of Advocacy, Alma Al Osta, Advocacy Manager on Disarmament and Protection of Civilians, Baptiste Chapuis, Advocacy Officer.