After almost three years of negotiations, states will come together in Dublin on November 18 to adopt a Political Declaration addressing the humanitarian harm caused by the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.
The Political Declaration is the first formal international recognition of the serious harm caused to people when explosive weapons are used in populated areas. It sets out a framework for states to strengthen the protection of civilians from such practices, including imposing limits on the use of explosive weapons in these settings.
MAG (Mines Advisory Group) will send a delegation to Dublin to share its expertise and first-hand experience of the humanitarian impact of explosive weapons, as an active member of the International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW).
When explosive weapons are used in populated areas, 9 out of 10 people who are killed or injured are civilians. Additionally, these weapons create significant damage to critical civilian infrastructure such as schools, hospitals, power plants, or water and sanitation systems. Those that do not explode on impact remain in the ground as unexploded ordnance, continuing to pose a deadly threat to communities and hindering reconstruction for years. It takes decades for a community to recover, long after a conflict has ended, and at great expense.
“I saw first-hand during a recent trip to Ukraine the devastating humanitarian impact of explosive weapons when used in towns and cities,” says Darren Cormack, CEO of MAG. “We’ve seen this elsewhere also, such as in Syria or Iraq. At a time when wars are increasingly being fought in urban settings, we’re calling on the international community to do more to protect civilians and the infrastructure they rely on.”
MAG has published an open letter signed by over 6,000 people urging world leaders to join the Political Declaration and to address the human suffering caused by explosive weapons in populated areas.
Several countries including the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany and France have already announced their intention to endorse the Political Declaration with more expected to follow suit in Dublin.
“The Declaration, if implemented effectively, has the potential to save thousands of lives,” adds Cormack. “That’s why we are calling on states to ensure this commitment goes beyond words and translates into concrete action on the ground for conflict-affected communities.”
NOTES TO THE EDITOR
The Mines Advisory Group (MAG) is a global humanitarian and advocacy organisation that finds, removes and destroys landmines, cluster munitions and unexploded bombs from places affected by conflict
MAG also provides education programmes, particularly for children, so people can live, work and play as safely as possible until they clear the land.
The organisation, which employs some 5,500 people in 27 countries, also delivers work to reduce armed violence by educating people about the risks of small arms and light weapons and by destroying and marking weapons and helping authorities to safely store arms and ammunition.
Since 1989, MAG has helped over 20 million people in 70 countries rebuild their lives after war. In 1997, MAG shared the Nobel Peace Prize for its role in banning landmines.
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