Explosive weapons are used in most armed conflicts today by both state and non-state actors. The bombing and shelling of towns and cities means deaths and injuries to civilians, destruction of homes, schools, and hospitals, and loss of access to food, water, shelter, and sanitation. 2013 research shows that 82% of fatalities caused by explosive weapons were civilians.
WILPF has always worked for an end to war and armed conflict. Wanting to confront, stop, and prevent the bombing towns and cities with explosive violence, WILPF is a member of the Steering Group of the International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW). This network is a partnership of non-governmental organisations working to reduce and prevent humanitarian harm from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. For more information, go to: www.inew.org We are calling on states and other actors to face up to this problem, to meet the needs of victims and survivors, to review their national practices, and to come together to develop stronger international standards to stop this pattern of violence.
A bit about explosive weapons
Although they differ in size, design, and the way they are used, explosive weapons share certain fundamental characteristics. All of them use explosives as the primary means of causing damage, utilising explosive force to affect an area around the point of detonation, usually through the effects of blast and fragmentation. Some examples include bombs, cluster munitions, grenades, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), mines, missiles, mortars, and rockets.
The fact that explosive weapons use blast and fragmentation to kill and injure people makes them especially problematic for use in populated areas, since their effects are difficult to fully anticipate and control. This becomes increasingly more difficult the wider the area of effect around the point of detonation is. As a result, especially when used in populated areas, explosive weapons are very likely to cause great harm to individuals and communities.
The use of these weapons also has an overwhelmingly negative impact on infrastructure such as housing, schools, hospitals, and water and sanitation systems. This results in devastating long-term effects on people’s lives, far beyond the conflict itself. Survivors of explosive weapon attacks can suffer from many kinds of long-term challenges such as displacement, disability, psychological harm, and social and economic exclusion.