Key Developments in Humanitarian Disarmament: Anniversaries and Actions

Lan Mei, Armed Conflict and Civilian Protection Initiative

This past month, the humanitarian disarmament community prepared to observe two important anniversaries: the entry into force of the Convention on Cluster Munitions and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. These anniversaries have provided an opportunity to reflect on both the legacies of these historical events and the actions needed to achieve greater progress towards humanitarian disarmament.

Entry into Force of the Convention on Cluster Munitions

August 1 marked the 10th anniversary of the entry into force of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. The convention has already left a significant humanitarian legacy in its first decade.  

Related developments include:

  • Just ahead of the decennial, on July 29 and 31, respectively, Montenegro and Croatia declared fulfillment of their clearance obligations under Article 4 of the convention.
  • The Implementation Support Unit published a summary of the achievements of the convention to date. Notable milestones include the destruction of 99% of the total declared cluster munition stocks and the clearance of 500 square kilometers of cluster munition contaminated lands.
  • Supporters of the ban on cluster munitions celebrated the 10th anniversary in numerous creative ways. Mines Action Canada and Seguridad Humana en Latinoamérica y el Caribe (SEHLAC) produced a video about the convention that advocated for its universal adoption. Proud Students Against Landmines and Cluster Bombs, based in West Virginia, launched a postcard drive to urge members of the United States Congress to support the bans on landmines and cluster munitions. The Afghan Landmine Survivors Organization created a piece of street art outside of the parliament building in Kabul to raise awareness of the plight of victims and to encourage stronger implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty and the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
  • On August 6, Niue acceded to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, becoming its 109th state party.
Students in West Virginia organized a postcard drive to urge the US Congress to support the bans on cluster munitions and landmines. Credit: PSALM/WVCBL, 2020.

Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Humanitarian disarmament advocates across the world organized activities to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9, 1945. The events honored the lives lost and suffering caused while highlighting the global support for the appeal of the hibakusha: to “achieve a nuclear-free world in our [hibakusha’s] lifetime, so that succeeding generations of people will not see hell on earth ever again.”

Related developments include:

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons reached 44 ratifications as the world commemorated the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Credit: International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, 2020.

Other Updates

While the humanitarian disarmament community was focused this month on cluster munitions and nuclear weapons, work in other areas did not stop.

In case you missed it:

  • On July 28 and 29, respectively, São Tomé and Príncipe, Afghanistan, and Niue became the 108th, 109th, and 110th states parties to the Arms Trade Treaty.
  • Action on Armed Violence released two reports last month on the environmental and health effects of the use of explosive weapons.
  • The Goettingen Journal of International Law published a special issue focused on the protection of the environment in relation to armed conflict. Its articles reflect upon the International Law Commission’s draft principles on the topic and other relevant areas of law.

Next month, the humanitarian disarmament community will strive to build on its recent momentum and advance work on other issues. The Sixth Conference of States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty will take place by written procedure from August 17-21, and numerous side events have been scheduled. While the August session of the Group of Governmental Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems has been postponed, the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots will continue its global discussions via Insta Live sessions with experts. The website continues to post resources on humanitarian disarmament and COVID-19 on this page.

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