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A political declaration on the bombing of civilians

Explosive weapons

Handicap International (HI) is taking part in the Meeting of the First Committee of the General Assembly of the United Nations (Disarmament and International Security), which opened in early October. Why is the organisation attending this major international event?

Pyramid of shoes, 23rd edition. Lyon. | © Brice Blondel / Handicap International

HI attending the United Nations General Assembly

The United Nations General Assembly meets every year from early September. The assembly is composed of six committees. These large working groups each has its own speciality. Their role is to hold talks, alert the General Assembly to specific points, and make recommendations. HI is taking part in the committee on disarmament and international security.

Dialogue with States

For HI, these committee meetings, which are being held from 2 October to 2 November, are an opportunity to talk with States and to encourage them to sign, if they haven’t done so already, the Mine Ban Convention (Ottawa Convention) and the Convention on Cluster Munitions (Oslo Convention). It is also calling on States to end the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. To this end, it has presented States with its reportEverywhere the bombing followed us’, published on 5 October, which establishes the link between the bombing of civilians and multiple forced population displacement in the Syrian conflict.

Towards a political declaration

Against the bombing of civilians, HI is calling on States to support a political declaration in which they commit to condemn the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, recognise the suffering of civilians and assist victims. The drafting of a political declaration is a key objective of Handicap International’s campaign. The declaration is similar to a treaty and, over the long term, HI wants as many States as possible to support and sign it. A draft statement is currently being drawn up by a group of States and NGOs. This sort of work can take many years. HI wants to put a stop to the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, particularly weapons with wide-area impact.

Civic action

Since the beginning of September, HI has been running a civic action campaign - Stop Bombing Civilians - on social media, against the bombing of civilians. To take part, people simply need to write “STOP” on their hand, take a photo in which the word can clearly be seen, and post the selfie on social media with the hashtag #StopBombing and #StopBombingCivilians to show their support for HI’s campaign.

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A frightening increase in the number of victims of explosive weapons
(c) E. Fourt/HI

A frightening increase in the number of victims of explosive weapons

On the occasion of the International Day for Mine Awareness, HI is alarmed by the frightening increase in the number of civilian victims of explosive weapons : 32,008 civilians were killed or injured by explosive weapons in 2016 (out of a total of 45,624 victims), according to Action on Armed Violence (AOAV). The toll looks even heavier for 2017, as civilians account for 90% of the victims of explosive weapons when they are used in populated areas. Landmine Monitor has recorded a dramatic increase in casualties of mine and explosive remnants over the past three years. Syria, Afghanistan, Libya, Ukraine and Yemen are among the main countries affected.

7th anniversary of the Syrian conflict: After the death of partner organisation’s employee, HI condemns continuous bombings
© AFP PHOTO / AMER ALMOHIBANY

7th anniversary of the Syrian conflict: After the death of partner organisation’s employee, HI condemns continuous bombings

A staff member from a Syrian organisation that Humanity and Inclusion (HI) partners with was killed yesterday. Mustafa, his wife and their two children – both under the age of 8 years old – were killed by shelling in Hamouriyeh, Eastern Ghouta. As today marks the 7th anniversary of the Syrian conflict, HI condemns once again bombing and shelling of populated areas and calls on all parties to the conflict to protect civilians.

Completion of demining operations
©B.Blondel/HI

Completion of demining operations

HI has completed its demining operations in the Tshopo, Ituri, Bas-Uele and Haut-Uele provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), launched in January 2016. Over a two-year period, HI and its local partner, AFRILAM (Africa for Anti-Mine Action) cleared 34,520 m2 of land of mines, the equivalent of 5 football pitches, benefiting the 5,600 inhabitants in the region.