FEEDBACK – German-French Virtual Parliamentarian Discussion on the use of explosive weapons in international military operations in Syria and Iraq | December 17, 2020

screenshot of the online meeting

On the 10th of December, we gathered 25 German and French Parliamentarians and their representatives in a virtual discussion to enter a French-German dialogue on the better protection of civilians from the impact of explosive weapons. With the diplomatic process towards a political declaration against the use of explosive weapons in populated areas entering its […]

On the 10th of December, we gathered 25 German and French Parliamentarians and their representatives in a virtual discussion to enter a French-German dialogue on the better protection of civilians from the impact of explosive weapons.

With the diplomatic process towards a political declaration against the use of explosive weapons in populated areas entering its next phase, parliamentarians can play a crucial role in pushing their government towards a strong and meaningful political declaration.

The devastating impact of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas is widely documented.  Recent important studies were HI’s report “Death Sentence for Civilians” on reverberating effects in Yemen and the report “Seeing Through the Rubble. The civilian impact of the use of explosive weapons in the fight against ISIS” by our INEW partners PAX and Airwars which was presented during the parliamentarian meeting.

This study examines the reverberating effects and civilian harm caused in international military campaigns in Mosul, Raqqa and Hawijah. It stresses that even when states claim to act in accordance with international humanitarian law, civilian deaths, injuries and damage to vital infrastructure often cannot be sufficiently prevented when heavy explosive weapons are used in populated areas and are oftentimes shockingly underreported.

“The case studies of Hawijah, Mosul and Raqqa make clear that good intentions and adherence to International Humanitarian Law are not enough to prevent significant civilians suffering when explosive weapons with wide area effects are used in populated areas”, Laurie Treffers, Airwars.

What role can Parliamentarians play for the better protection of civilians?

The diplomatic process towards a political declaration under the leadership of Ireland is therefore crucial for the protection of civilians in urban warfare. Ambassador Michael Gaffey, Permanent Representative of Ireland to the United Nations in Geneva, opened the discussion by laying out the roadmap towards a strong political declaration. He thanked the German and French government for their strong engagement in the diplomatic process and pointed out the importance and vital role of civil society and parliamentarians in pushing further their governments towards a strengthening of the text of the political declaration – especially in regards to victims’ assistance and the civilian harm caused by the use of explosive weapons.

“The military use of explosive weapons for a military purpose may or may not achieve that military purpose but most certainly has a long standing impact on people who presumably were not originally intended as part of that military purpose”, Ambassador Gaffey.

An important aspect of discussion raised by Parliamentarians was the need of improving transparency on reporting of civilian victims due to the use of explosive weapons. It is a crucial to the tell the true story about international military operations and be able to hold governments accountable for their military actions. Furthermore, the perspective should not be shifted only towards non-state actors and improvised explosive devices because states responsibilities and need for action is of utmost importance. Finally German and French parliamentarians agreed on further concerted need of action.

Our German and French Advocacy experts Baptiste Chapuis and Dr. Eva Maria Fischer thanked the French and German parliamentarians for their past engagement in this important diplomatic process and encouraged them to keep pressuring their respective governments through joint efforts.

“We call on the French and German parliamentarians to unite their efforts and dynamism, particularly within the framework of the Franco-German parliamentary assembly, so that, in the final months of this historic process, France and Germany can support a strong and ambitious political declaration”. Baptiste Chapuis – Disarmament, Crises and Conflicts Advocacy Officer – Humanity & Inclusion (HI) France.

“I hope that this Franco-German parliamentary exchange will contribute to the adoption of a political declaration with a strong and effective text, which can bring about a concrete change in military practices by all actors” Dr. Eva Maria Fischer – Manager Advocacy – Humanity & Inclusion (HI) Germany.


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Posted in Disarmament, Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas, Feedback, Publications, Syria, YemenTagged