Every year explosive weapons, such as bombs, grenades and rockets, on towns and villages, kill and wound large numbers of civilians, among them many children. Most recently explosive weapons have caused immense suffering and devastation in Gaza, Syria and Ukraine. In its report Unacceptable Risk, PAX urges states to refrain from using such heavy explosive weapons in populated areas.
“If you bombard a town with large bombs or unguided rockets, it is inevitable that people who are not targeted will nevertheless be killed”, says Frank Slijper of PAX.
In its report Unacceptable Risk, PAX examines how military experts assessed the acceptability of explosive weapon use in three cases brought before the Yugoslavia Tribunal (ICTY). The report finds that many experts considered weapons like unguided rockets and grenades inappropriate to use in a city. But the report also finds that existing legal rules for the protection of civilians leave much room for differing interpretations.
Slijper emphasizes that PAX is not advocating a prohibition of explosive weapons, but stresses that “states must acknowledge that the use of explosive weapons in populated areas poses an unacceptable risk to civilians.” PAX calls on states to work towards an international commitment aimed at stopping such use.
PAX is co-founder of the International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW), which advocates stronger international standards regarding the use of explosive weapons.
PAX will present Unacceptable Risk in New York on 22 October, on the margins of the annual disarmament meeting of the UN General Assembly.