Today, January 19, the United Nations is hosting a Security Council open debate on the protection of civilians in armed conflict. Handicap International is calling on all states to recognize the impact of explosive weapons and to endorse the UN Secretary-General’s recommendation that states should refrain from the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas.
In addition to that, Handicap International is calling on states to support the development of an international political instrument aimed at reducing harm from the use of explosive weapons. This includes halting the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas.
“Large aircraft bombs, inaccurate artillery shells, and multiple launch rocket systems are examples of explosive weapons that have an impact over a wide area: in that case, civilian deaths and injuries are predictable,” says Anne Héry, Director for Advocacy and Institutional Relations in Handicap International. “Around 50 States and territories have acknowledged the humanitarian problem of the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. However, only 25 states have called for action to address the problem.”
The bombing and shelling of towns and cities during conflict, which is currently happening in Syria, Ukraine, Iraq, and Yemen, can and must be stopped. According to Action on Armed Violence (AOAV), more than 32,000 civilians were reported killed or injured in 2014 by explosive weapons. The number of casualties has been increasing for the last four years. AOAV also found that when explosive weapons were used in populated areas, 92% of the casualties are civilians.
International Network on Explosive Weapons, a network co-founded by Handicap International, has circulated a briefing paper to states for the debate and it can be downloaded here.
 Report of the Secretary-General’s on the protection of civilians in armed conflict (18 June 2015), http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/2015/453, S/2015/453