Ending the bombing of civilians
HI will attend the Paris Peace Forum from 11 to 13 November to advance its campaign against the bombing of populated areas. We talked to Baptiste Chapuis, HI’s Disarmament Advocacy Officer, about what the organisation aims to achieve at this international meeting.
Twenty-seven French MPs gathered outside the National Assembly in Paris on 7 November. They invited President Macron to commit himself to ending the bombing of populated areas. | © Thomas Dossus / HI
What does HI plan to do at the Peace Forum?
We’re sending a delegation of four people to the forum. Our role will initially be to take part in the many discussions and meetings directly related to our campaign against the bombing of populated areas. It is important to be aware of what government delegations are saying, to hear the views of specific politicians, ambassadors, NGOs, etc.
HI will also organise a round-table discussion on Tuesday morning on the bombing of civilians. Some 15 people, including MPs and the Ambassador of Mozambique to France - a country strongly committed to this cause - will be invited to discuss the issue and possible political solutions.
Lastly, this international meeting is an opportunity for HI to meet with delegations and politicians, to ask them about their positions, to convince them to get involved, to find out what action they are planning to take and so on. In short, to engage in a dialogue.
President Macron is supposed to bring the Forum to end. Are you also calling on him to take action?
We’re calling on him to get involved through our campaign to mobilise the support of MPs, which we launched in early September: in the eight countries where we have national associations, the organisation called on 4,500 MPs to help ensure their respective countries' commit to stopping the bombing of civilians. Many MPs responded to our appeal. Several have expressed their support for our campaign in France, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Luxembourg and other countries.
In France, 90 MPs signed an appeal against the bombing of civilians. On Wednesday, 7 November, 27 of them gathered in front of the National Assembly with portraits of bombing victims. They called on President Emmanuel Macron to take a clear stand against the bombing of populated areas.
Are you targeting other heads of state?
HI has sent a letter to Chancellor Angela Merkel who will open the Forum and ask her to focus her speech on the bombing of populated areas and its disastrous impact on civilians.
What do you expect to achieve from the event?
We hope to make people more aware of our campaign and to convince as many politicians as possible of the urgent need to take action against this scourge of modern warfare. Ninety-two percent of people killed or maimed by the bombing of populated areas are civilians. This is unacceptable. It is possible to find a political solution.
We also hope to win the support of the general public for our campaign, helped by French daily newspaper La Croix, which is providing behind-the-scenes coverage of HI's advocacy actions at the Forum. We will be live on Twitter and Facebook. In short, we want to draw attention to our political actions and mobilise the support of the general public.
What should governments do to advance the cause?
We are inviting them to join the process of drafting a political declaration on the bombing of civilians, currently backed by 12 countries and supported by HI and its partners. This process, which we launched two years ago, is supported by the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
 Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States.