“Ireland has played a huge role in getting the international community to this historic moment. Many Dóchas members work in conflict areas and see first hand the devastating effects of explosives on innocent civilians. We are therefore delighted to be able to co-host today’s civil society forum where activists from around the world are coming together here in Dublin on this important occasion.” - Jane-Ann McKenna
- Irish Civil Servants Honoured with International ‘Protection of Civilians’ Award for their Leading Role in Getting Agreement on Global Explosive Weapons Declaration.
- Delegates hear from civilian armed conflict survivors and see replica bombed out school classroom.
- Activists gather from across the world after a decade-long successful campaign for a new international agreement to impose limits against use of explosive weapons in populated areas
Thursday 17 November, Dublin – Today activists gather at a Global Civil Society Forum in Dublin featuring recent civilian survivors of armed conflict. The forum, hosted by the International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW) and Dóchas, involves states, international NGOs, civil society representatives including people who have lived through bombing and shelling in conflict affected areas such as Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Ethiopia, and Pakistan. The Forum takes place in advance of the signing of a major new international agreement to protect civilians from explosive weapons in populated areas, led by the Irish Government.
The event will look at the civilian and humanitarian problems caused by explosive weapons and will discuss what should happen after the agreed political declaration is signed at Dublin Castle. A key aim is to ensure that the political declaration is the beginning of a long-term, committed and effective process of work to keep civilians safer in armed conflict, and to see limits imposed on the use of explosive weapons in populated cities, towns and other populated areas due to the risk of harm to civilians.
Speakers at the forum include Nujeen Mustafa a Syrian survivor of armed conflict and activist who fled her homeland aged 16 (author of the book “A girl from Aleppo”) and Dr Hamza Al-Kateab a doctor who ran one of the last functioning hospitals in Aleppo and who features in award-winning film “For Sama”.
A uniquely constructed replica of a ‘Bombed out School’ installation by Save the Children and INEW will take centre stage.
The Declaration on the Protection of Civilians from the Use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas will be signed tomorrow, November 18th, by representatives from over 60 countries including the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Brazil, Japan and affected country Palestine.
The civil society forum will also award the first ever ‘Protection of Civilians Award’ medal to Irish civil servants for their extensive contributions to protect civilians in armed conflict. Michael Gaffey (now Head of Irish Aid and former Ambassador to the UN in Geneva) and Jamie Walsh (Deputy Ambassador to the UN in Geneva) who led the diplomatic process in Geneva to develop the new international Declaration on the Protection of Civilians from the Use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas over the past three years, will be awarded the medals for their work on behalf of the government of Ireland.
Speaking at the civil society forum at the Richmond Education and Event Centre in the Dublin’s city centre INEW spokesperson Laura Boillot said: “The use of explosive weapons in populated areas is now the leading cause of civilian casualties in armed conflicts must be addressed urgently and directly. We call on all states to endorse the Declaration and to limit the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, and to help civilians and their communities during and after conflict.”
Speaking on behalf of Dóchas, CEO Jane-Ann McKenna said “Ireland has played a huge role in getting the international community to this historic moment. Many Dóchas members work in conflict areas and see first hand the devastating effects of explosives on innocent civilians. We are therefore delighted to be able to co-host today’s civil society forum where activists from around the world are coming together here in Dublin on this important occasion.”
- Civilians account for vast majority of casualties in contemporary armed conflicts: A century ago, civilians represented around 10%–15% of total casualties in armed conflict. By World War II this had risen to nearly 50%, and by the 1990s civilians accounted for between 80% and 85% of casualties in armed conflict, a trend that continued and intensified into the twenty-first century (see ODI).
- Use of explosive weapons in populated areas primary killer of civilians in conflict: When explosive weapons are used in populated areas, 90% of victims are civilians; every year tens of thousands of civilians are killed and injured by bombing and shelling in towns, cities and other populated areas (see Action on Armed Violence).
- In the last decade, over 511,000 civilians were reportedly directly killed and injured by the use of explosive weapons in over 130 countries. Some of the most affected countries include: Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Ukraine, Nigeria, Somalia, Palestine (Gaza) and Libya (see Action on Armed Violence).
The International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW) is an NGO partnership calling for immediate action to prevent human suffering from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. It comprises more than 40 organisations from across 25 countries. The steering committee includes Action on Armed Violence (AOAV), Article 36, Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC), Humanity and Inclusion (HI), Human Rights Watch, PAX, Norwegian People’s Aid, Oxfam, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Save the Children and SEHLAC. www.inew.org | @explosiveweapon