Protection of civilians in urban warfare

Many of today’s conflicts take place in urban areas where military targets are located close to civilians and civilian infrastructure. Explosive weapons, originally designed for open battlefields, are being used in cities and other populated areas. Targeting of civilian persons and objects is in direct violation of International Humanitarian Law (IHL). Use of explosive weapons with wide-area effects will, even if directed towards military targets, challenge fundamental IHL principles. These types of explosives carry high risk of collateral civilian losses and destruction of critical civilian infrastructure, which could have serious and long-lasting consequences for the civilian population.

In light of the process surrounding a political declaration to address the humanitarian harm arising from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas organised by Ireland, the Norwegian Red Cross organised this roundtable discussion with central Norwegian actors in collaboration with the Peace Research Institute Oslo and the NCHS. The objective of the meeting was to coordinate and strengthen the Norwegian contribution to the process.

The roundtable was held on 5 March 2020. Read a summary of the discussion (in Norwegian) here.