Tue, 06 Jun 2023

GENEVA, Switzerland - Ireland on Friday chaired the final round of international negotiations on a Political Declaration on the use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas.

Ireland has been leading the negotiations for three years, following lengthy international discussions and a call by the UN Secretary-General for member states to agree a Political Declaration to address the devastating impact on civilians. The Declaration agreed in Geneva on Friday will be adopted by States at an international conference to be held in Dublin in the autumn.

The Political Declaration recognises the immense humanitarian consequences of the use of explosive weapons in urban areas; it reinforces the obligation to comply with international humanitarian law and strengthens its implementation; and it sets out actions to be taken in military operations to strengthen the protection of civilians.

"I welcome the agreement reached on the devastating humanitarian consequences of the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, and the actions which need to be taken to strengthen the protection of civilians. For too long, we have watched the destruction and suffering caused by the use of heavy weapons in urban areas. We have seen the appalling consequences for civilians in Syria, in Iraq, in Yemen and, most recently in Ukraine, as I saw for myself during my visit last month. I'm proud that Ireland is leading this process to strengthen the protection of civilians from the severe, and long lasting effects of explosive weapons in populated areas," Ireland's Foreign Minister and Defence Minister Simon Coveney said Friday in Geneva.

"This political declaration is a very significant milestone. It powerfully recognises the humanitarian consequences of the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. Most significantly, the declaration includes a number of ambitious and forward-looking actions that states will take to address those impacts, as well as a commitment to strengthen compliance with and improve the implementation of International Humanitarian Law."

"The implementation of this declaration will change how militaries operate in populated areas, including when the use of explosive weapons is expected to cause civilian harm. It will ensure that militaries take into account the effect of their actions not only on civilians but also on homes, hospitals, schools, and vital resources such as food and energy systems. It also provides for improved data collection, the sharing of best practices, and assistance to victims," Coveney said.

"I wish to thank States, International Organisations, the International Committee of the Red Cross and civil society for their strong engagement in the process. I look forward to the formal adoption of the declaration at a high-level international conference in Dublin in the autumn."

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