ALERT- Use of explosive weapons in populated areas : Unprecedented Mobilisation of 210 French and German Parliamentarians ! | March 2, 2021

Two days before States will restart negotiating on the political declaration on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, more than 210 French & German Parliamentarians have published today a joint parliamentary call to Ministers of Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian and Heiko Maas. “Explosive Weapons in populated areas injure and kill tens of […]

Two days before States will restart negotiating on the political declaration on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, more than 210 French & German Parliamentarians have published today a joint parliamentary call to Ministers of Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian and Heiko Maas.

“Explosive Weapons in populated areas injure and kill tens of thousands of people worldwide every year.”

This is the beginning of a joint open letter signed by 210 French and German Parliamentarians addressing their respective Ministers of Foreign Affairs. The letter was published on Monday, the 1st of March in the run-up to the negotiations of a political declaration against the use of explosive weapons in populated areas (EWIPA) from 3rd to 5th of March.

In the open letter the French and German Parliamentarians appeal to their governments to:

  • Recognize the harm caused by the use of EWIPA to civilians, crucial infrastructure and the environment,
  • Enhance their commitment to the international negotiations despite the COVID-19 pandemic,
  • Deliver new robust standards for the better protection of civilians and crucial infrastructure,
  • Avoid the use of explosive weapons with wide area effect in populated areas,
  • Strengthen the commitments to victim assistance in the political declaration.

The French and German governments show strong engagement in the diplomatic process and voice their positions in joint statements with mixed outcomes that are not conducive to a strong and effective political declaration. Therefore, it is of crucial importance and especially encouraging to see parliamentarians from the two countries pushing their governments further towards strengthening the text of the political declaration – especially in regards to victim assistance and the civilian harm caused by the use of explosive weapons.

The initiative was launched after HI’s first German-French Virtual Parliamentarian Discussion on the use of explosive weapons in international military operations in Syria and Iraq that took place on the 10th of December 2020. A French-German Dialogue on the better protection of civilians from the impact of explosive weapons and this open letter could prove effective in influencing their governments towards stronger commitment. In times of shrinking space, it also serves as an encouraging sign for civil society.

 “In the current process, we observe that the governments of Germany and France are working very closely together and tend to advocate for weakening the text in their joint submissions. Therefore, the MPs’ open letter is an important tool to call on governments to act and to remind them of the UN Secretary General’s reasoned request” – Dr. Eva Maria Fischer, Manager advocacy and development education, HI Germany.

The open letter was published by La Croix and L’Humanité in France and BR24 in Germany. An English translation can be found below:

“Explosive weapons in populated areas (EWIPA) injure and kill tens of thousands of people around the world every year – regardless of whether they are used by state or non-state actors. The human suffering and damage to critical infrastructure and the environment persist decades after hostilities end.

We acknowledge the participation of our governments in the ongoing international negotiations on a political declaration against the use of EWIPA. The consultations have been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the suffering of civilians affected by explosive weapons remains unhindered.

As members of the French and German parliaments, we believe it is indispensable that the international community develops robust new standards that protect civilians and infrastructure. The political declaration must not relativize the obvious and well-documented humanitarian impact of the use of EWIPA. It should recognise that especially the use of explosive weapons with wide area effect in populated areas always causes civilian casualties and must therefore be avoided in the future, as the UN Secretary General and the International Committee of the Red Cross have also called for. A declaration should also contain strict provisions on victim assistance.

We urge our governments to courageously advocate for such a political declaration against the use of explosive weapons in populated areas and to include civil society initiatives in the negotiations.”

Download here the PDF version of the parliamentarian appeal.


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