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A great victory in the fight against urban warfare

After well over a decade of advocacy and political pressure, Norwegian People's Aid and other civil society actors were able to let out their cheers at the UN on 17 June. Finally, a political declaration regulating the use of explosive weapons in populated areas is becoming a reality.

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Bombed out residential areas after Israel's Gaza offensive over 11 days in May 2021 Photo: NPA

Positive consequences

NPA and the rest of the International Network for Explosive Weapons (INEW) have long fought at the frontline demanding that the international community confront this bestial form of warfare. It has been imperative to regulate the use of explosive weapons with wide-area effects, as weapons that were originally designed for vast battlefield areas.

"We reached an important milestone this June, following on from the meeting Vienna in the autumn of 2019, when more than 100 states agreed to initiate diplomatic negotiations on a political declaration. The work on the text of the agreement has been penned by Ireland, but due to the corona pandemic it has taken a little longer than planned. Now we're finally in port," Duric explained.

But what exactly does such a declaration entail in practice? Will it have any effect in practice when there is no ban on par with the Mine Ban Treaty, Convention on Cluster Munitions or the Nuclear Weapons Ban?

"Such a declaration will have several immediate positive consequences. It commits all signatory states to limit the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, and to assist survivors and victims and address the long-term impacts on civilian infrastructure.”

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Kristina Duric is NPA's senior adviser for disarmament and weapons policy.
Facts about EWIPA