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Armed conflicts are increasingly fought in population centres but often with weapon systems that were originally designed for use in open battlefields. When used in populated areas, explosive weapons with wide-area effects are a major cause of civilian casualties and of damage to critical infrastructure, with consequent disruption of services essential for the survival of civilians, such as health care, water, the electricity supply and sanitation services.

In Resolution 7 of the 2013 Council of Delegates on “Weapons and international humanitarian law”, the Movement called on States to strengthen the protection of civilians from the indiscriminate use and effects of explosive weapons and to avoid using explosive weapons with a wide impact area in densely populated areas.

This workshop aims to raise awareness of the direct and indirect humanitarian consequences of these weapons, of the issues they raise under international humanitarian law and of good practices that can be applied by armed forces when choosing means and methods of warfare in populated areas. It will also be the opportunity for the ICRC to present its observations and recommendations on preventing unacceptable civilian harm caused by the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.

Languages: English/French/Spanish/Arabic/Russian

Outline: Use of explosive weapons in populated areas

Additional information

ICRC Fact Sheet on Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas
https://www.icrc.org/en/document/explosive-weapons-populated-areas-factsheet
(all languages available by changing the language of the page, at top right)

ICRC Challenges Report 2015
https://www.icrc.org/en/document/international-humanitarian-law-and-challenges-contemporary-armed-conflicts
(other languages available as above)

2013 Council of Delegates Resolution 7
2013 Council of Delegates resolution booklet

I Saw My City Die
http://cityatwar.icrc.org/
Report: https://shop.icrc.org/i-saw-my-city-die.html?___store=default

ICRC Expert Meeting Report (2015)
https://www.icrc.org/en/document/explosive-weapons-populated-areas-humanitarian-legal-technical-and-military-aspects
(French and Spanish  available by changing the language of the page, at top right)

Urban Services during Protracted Armed Conflict Report (2015)
https://www.icrc.org/en/document/urban-services-protracted-conflict-report

International Review of the Red Cross, War and Cities Edition, Article entitled “The impact of explosive weapons on urban services: Direct and reverberating effects across space and time” (2017)
https://www.icrc.org/en/international-review/article/impact-explosive-weapons-urban-services-direct-and-reverberating

ICRC Bled Dry Report (2015)
https://www.icrc.org/en/document/bled-dry-how-war-middle-east-bringing-region-brink-water-catastrophe

Characterisation of Explosive Weapons Research Project
characterisationexplosiveweapons.org