Lan Mei, Armed Conflict and Civilian Protection Initiative
After a year-long delay due to the pandemic, consultations on a draft political declaration on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas resumed this month. In other news, civil society held events and released publications recognizing the human cost of explosive weapons, incendiary weapons, landmines, and nuclear weapons, while two new states joined the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
While these updates show that humanitarian disarmament continues to move forward, a new survey seeks to explore in more depth how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected our community’s work. We encourage you to fill out the short questionnaire, which is available in English, French, and Spanish.
In case you missed it:
- On February 2, research company Ipsos released the results of a survey of global opinions on killer robots. The company surveyed more than 20,000 adults in 28 countries and found that 61% of survey participants oppose the use of fully autonomous weapons; 21% support their use; and 17% have no opinion. Concerns about morality led the list of reasons participants cited for their opposition.
- Saint Kitts and Nevis, Nicaragua, and Zambia were the first three states of 2021 to submit their annual transparency reports required by Article 7 of the Convention on Cluster Munitions to the UN Secretary-General. The reporting deadline is April 30, and instructions and templates can be found on the convention website here.
- On February 18-19, the Philippines and Comoros became the 53rd and 54th states parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, following Cambodia’s ratification of the treaty on the day of its entry into force.
- The UN Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) published a Menu of Indicators to Measure the Reverberating Effects on Civilians from the Use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas on February 23. The publication offers a tool, with recommended indicators, to help researchers disaggregate the impacts of explosive weapons use and offers both an explanation of the indicators as well as possible sources of data.
- On February 23, Human Rights Watch and Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic published a factsheet about incendiary weapons. The factsheet summarizes the harms caused by incendiary weapons; assesses the shortcomings of existing law, namely, Protocol III to the Convention on Conventional Weapons; and recommends actions to strengthen protection for civilians against the use of such weapons.
- From February 22-24, Colombia hosted a National Stakeholder Dialogue with non-governmental organizations representing victims of antipersonnel mines. The discussions will contribute to integrated victim assistance efforts in the country.
- March 1 marked the 22nd anniversary of the Mine Ban Treaty’s entry into force. In honor of the anniversary, the Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor published a factsheet illustrating trends in funding for mine action.
- March 1 in the Marshall Islands is Nuclear Victims Remembrance Day. This year marked 67 years since the 67 Castle Bravo nuclear tests on the Marshall Islands, and civil society organizations hosted an online commemoration event, “Remembering 67 Tests after 67 Years for 67 Minutes.” A video recording of the commemoration can be found on the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation YouTube page here. More information about the legacy of nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands can be found on the Marshallese Education Initiative website here.
- Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) published its Explosive Violence Monitor 2020 on March 2, ahead of the consultations on the draft declaration on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. The report documents more than 18,000 deaths and injuries caused by explosive weapons in 2020, of which 59% were civilians. When explosive weapons were used in populated areas, 88% of casualties were civilians. One positive finding was that 2020 is the fifth consecutive year in which civilian casualties from explosive weapons use have declined.
- From March 3-5, Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs hosted informal consultations on an updated draft political declaration on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. More than 70 states, along with international and nongovernmental organizations, attended the consultations. While some states argued that existing international humanitarian law is sufficient to govern the issue, a majority supported proposals for stronger commitments to protect civilians from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. Brief video summaries and commentaries on the consultations can be found on the website of the International Network on Explosive Weapons, and the written submissions on the draft text will be posted on Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs website here. For more information, see Reaching Critical Will’s report on the meeting.
Looking ahead, the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots will host a virtual global meeting on March 24. The Arms Trade Treaty Seventh Conference of States Parties preparatory meeting is scheduled for April 26-30, and the president of the Second Review Conference of the Convention on Cluster Munitions announced that he is aiming to reschedule the conference’s second part to June 2-3.