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83 States have made history by endorsing the international agreement against bombing on towns and cities

Explosive weapons
International

Acknowledging the devastating humanitarian consequences of bombing and shelling of towns and cities, 83 States adopted an international agreement to better protect civilians from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, at the Dublin Conference on November 18, 2022.

Participants at the Dublin Conference on November 18, 2022

Participants at the Dublin Conference on November 18, 2022 | © G. Lordet / HI

83 States adopted the agreement

Concluding a three-year diplomatic process, States, UN agencies, international and regional organisations and civil society attended a high-level international conference on November 18 in Dublin to adopt the international agreement to better protect civilians from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. 

This is the first-ever international agreement on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. 83 States endorsed the agreement including: Albania, Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cabo Verde, Cambodia, Canada, Central African Republic, Chile, Colombia, Comoros, Costa Rica, Cote d’Ivorie, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Guyana, Holy See, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Kiribati, Kuwait, Laos, Lichtenstein, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Palau, Palestine, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Slovakia, Slovenia, Somalia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Togo, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay.

Prior to the conference, at the civil society forum on November 17, HI and the civil society rewarded Irish Ambassador for the United Nations Michael Gaffey with the HI medal for the protection of civilians: Michael Gaffey conducted the three-year diplomatic process, bringing a crucial contribution to the protection of civilians in armed conflict.

An historic change

The agreement commits states to imposing limits on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas in order to prevent harm to civilians. It further commits states to assisting victims and addressing the long-term impacts of damage and destruction of civilian infrastructure.

“Having this new international agreement on urban bombing adopted by 83 States – including States with a significant military presence worldwide, such as the United States – provides hope for the future. It is a recognition that the continued, heavy toll on civilians from bombing and shelling in cities and towns is unacceptable. States must start working immediately towards effective implementation of their commitments. Over 290.000 civilians have been killed or injured by the bombing of cities and other populated areas over the last 12 years. Populated areas have been systematically and extensively bombed and shelled in Ukraine, Syria, Yemen, Palestine, Ethiopia… It must stop.” - HI Advocacy Director, Anne Héry

Today’s conflicts are increasingly fought in urban environments. As a result, 90% of the victims are civilian. In WWII, civilians represented 50% of war victims and, a century ago, only 15%.

The Dublin Conference is a success. HI wants to thank warmly Ireland for conducting the diplomatic negotiations and organising this endorsing conference.

Implementation of the agreement

Once signed, States will need to work to implement the agreement without delay, developing policies at the national level that will change practices on the ground.

HI and its partners in the International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW) will be actively monitoring this process. With the Explosive Weapons Monitor co-created by HI in 2022, we will monitor the humanitarian toll of the use of explosive weapons in populated areas and military policies and practices to ensure better protection of civilians from explosive weapons. Our goal is to ensure that this international agreement brings about real changes for people affected by war and will improve the support for victims. 

A victory for HI and civil society

The Dublin Conference is a historical moment for civil society. 25 years ago, with the adoption of the Ottawa Treaty (1997), HI and the International Campaign to Ban Landmine (ICBL) achieved a ban on antipersonnel mines. 14 years ago, with the adoption of the Oslo Treaty (2008), our organisation and the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) succeeded in reaching a convention to ban cluster munitions.

Today, with the International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW) – a coalition co-founded by HI, the association wrote history by bringing about significant improvements to the protection of civilians in armed conflicts. HI’s fight remains constant: to protect civilians in armed conflicts.

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