Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas

Credit: Bonnie Docherty, 2006

Explosive weapons operate through the detonation of a high explosive substance that creates blast and fragmentation effects. They encompass a range of air-dropped, surface-launched, and other weapons, such as aircraft bombs, artillery projectiles, rockets, and missiles. Every year, their use in populated areas causes tens of thousands of casualties, most of whom are civilians. The damage they inflict on homes and infrastructure can lead to displacement and adversely affect health care, education, and other services. Explosive weapons are particularly dangerous when they are used in populated areas and have wide area effects due to a large blast radius, an inaccurate delivery mechanism, or the delivery of multiple munitions.

The International Network on Explosive Weapons, which was formed in 2011, calls on countries to commit to ending the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas and to meet the needs of survivors. In 2019, Austria and Ireland initiated a process to develop a political declaration designed to reduce the harm caused by this method of war.