Photo by Ahmad Al-Basha/Agence France-Presse, taken from Flickr under Creative Commons


April 18, 2024

Written by

Megan Karlshoej-Pedersen

Header Image

Photo by Ahmad Al-Basha/Agence France-Presse, taken from Flickr under Creative Commons

In November 2023, Airwars and Article 36 co-convened a workshop to explore military perspectives on the opportunities and challenges arising in the implementation of the Political Declaration on Strengthening the Protection of Civilians from the Humanitarian Consequences Arising from the Use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas.

In the workshop report, we summarise the discussions held and challenges identified during the two-day workshop. We draw on these lessons, and our wider work on EWIPA, to make recommendations to states and militaries working to implement the declaration, and civil society organisations focused on supporting this process.

The workshop focused on exploring operational policies and practice regarding the use of explosive weapons during military operations in populated areas, with reference to the Declaration. Using a scenario-based approach, the workshop aimed to identify, and raise awareness of, changes to policies and practices that are necessary for the effective implementation of the operational provisions of the Declaration, ahead of the first official follow-up meeting of states and civil society which will be held in Oslo next week.

Participants in the workshop included active and retired members of national armed forces and defence ministry officials from 8 Western states, as well as participants from NATO, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and civil society organisations.

Key findings 

A summary of the key recommendations and good practices outlined during the workshop are summarised below:

  • Efforts to disseminate and promote engagement with the Declaration at the national level are required within relevant ministries and departments as well as the armed forces.
  • A process of policy review, revision and development by signatory states is an essential element of the implementation process.
  • To promote and implement the Declaration, it is vital to include both leaders at the strategic/political level as well as commanders at the operational level.
  • Commanders have a key role to play in ensuring civilian harm is mitigated, particularly from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.
  • The Declaration’s central commitment points towards national-level policies and doctrines as the framework through which it should be implemented.
  • Weapon selection, including a proper understanding of the technical effects of different weapons and how those effects will be influenced by the built environment, is critical to mitigating civilian harm from explosive weapons.
  • States should critically review their approaches to and capacity for undertaking civilian harm tracking in line with established good practice.

The full workshop report can be found here.

▲ Photo by Ahmad Al-Basha/Agence France-Presse, taken from Flickr under Creative Commons