ALERT – Members of Parliaments take unprecedented step to end the bombing of civilians | May 25, 2021

As bombing continues to destroy the lives of thousands of civilians in Syria, Yemen and more recently in the Gaza Strip and Israel, members of at least five national parliaments of European states are taking part in a conference organised by elected representatives in France and Germany. Their aim is to put pressure on governments […]

As bombing continues to destroy the lives of thousands of civilians in Syria, Yemen and more recently in the Gaza Strip and Israel, members of at least five national parliaments of European states are taking part in a conference organised by elected representatives in France and Germany.

Their aim is to put pressure on governments to make a firm and concrete commitment to the fight against the bombing of civilians. This major political initiative marks the final stage in an ongoing diplomatic process to address the harm caused by the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. This is expected to give rise to an international political declaration before the end of the year.

Parliamentary diplomacy at work

On 27 May, members of at least five European parliaments from across the political spectrum will join their voices to pressure States to commit to the fight against the bombing of civilians. Following the Franco-German appeal signed by 210 members of parliament in March 2021, and the first global resolution against the bombing of civilians voted by the Belgian parliament last April, parliamentary diplomacy continues apace.

This interparliamentary conference marks a milestone in efforts to mobilise the support of States for an ambitious international agreement to address the harm caused by the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. This international agreement, which will take the form of a political declaration, is expected to be finalised by the end of 2021. The wording of the agreement is currently the subject of negotiation between States. A final round of negotiations will be held next autumn.

HI and elected representatives call on States to make a concrete commitment to the diplomatic process

During the conference, elected representatives will present a joint declaration calling on their governments to make a firm and concrete commitment to the fight against the bombing of civilians.

The most recent written submissions to the wording of the political declaration from some States, including France, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Belgium, minimise the systematic consequences for civilians of the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. These States are putting forward solutions which mostly already exist under international humanitarian law. This approach risks considerably weakening the major advance represented by this political declaration for the enhanced protection of civilians in conflict situations.

The only solution considered realistic and effective today, in particular by the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross, is to prevent any use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas. This solution is now adamantly opposed by France and some of its NATO allies.

HI is calling on the French government to change its position on the wording of the declaration and to make a contribution that will have a concrete impact in the field and ensure the effective protection of civilians.

Protecting civilians: a pressing humanitarian issue

Bombing continues to destroy the lives of thousands of civilians in Syria, Yemen and more recently in the Gaza Strip and Israel… In 2020, for the tenth year running, 90% of victims of explosive weapons in populated areas were civilians. The use of explosive weapons in urban areas has systematic humanitarian consequences for civilian populations.

Explosive weapons kill and injure civilians, cause severe psychological trauma, destroy vital infrastructure such as schools, health centres and roads, and force people to flee their homes. Bombing also leaves behind explosive remnants of war that threaten the lives of civilians long after fighting is over. It is more vital than ever to adopt a strong political declaration to protect civilians.


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