Updated: Jan 17
Photograph by: Bioantika Manurung
"Political Declaration on Strengthening the Protection of Civilians from the Humanitarian Consequences arising from the use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas (EWIPA)”, Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh, Scotland
Early December, the United Nations House of Scotland (UNHS)’s intern, Bioantika, had a chance to participate in the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) held in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday, December 6th.
This 2 hour meeting, sponsored by Maggie Chapman MSP and supported by the Scottish Parliamentarian WILPF members, Ruth Maguire MSP and Katy Clark MSP, was discussing “Political Declaration on Strengthening the Protection of Civilians from the Humanitarian Consequences arising from the Use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas (EWIPA)”, . Participants from the International Network on Explosive Weapons who addressed the meeting were Orlaith Minogue, from Save The Children, Megan Karlshoj-Pedersen from Airwars, and Iain Overton from Action on Armed Violence. WILPF instigated the meeting because of the significant gender aspect and impact of EWIPA, which should be addressed immediately by the global community, and damages caused by those weapons especially on civilians and public infrastructures is major. Approximately 90% of children and other vulnerable civilians are impacted during and after their use, and land and environmental issues are still becoming an unsolved problem. Last decade, 112 countries were impacted by the EWIPA, including Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and others. This also counted the 301,000 people that were killed by suicide bombs.
This discussion was focussed on Dublin declaration and the commitment made by involved stakeholders to push the implementation and commitment to addressing the impacts of these weapons. The Dublin declaration announced this commitment, and pledged to strengthen global collaboration and focus on military policy and humanitarian concerns.
The presentations and discourse received close attention from the attendees who posed numerous questions across a broad spectrum, including an exploration of next steps on how countries and leaders are creating a strong policy framework to ensure implementation of the declaration and protection of civilians. Three key points were the need for:
Strong transnational engagement to improve understanding the best approach from each country
To establish clearly who is to be responsible at a national level, Government need an open and transparent approach to acknowledging the reality of the harm caused, and more substantive engagement with other actors
The transparency here has attracted a long discussion on who are the stakeholders that need to be held accountable and in what capacity we should ask them. All countries need to be held accountable, especially for the massive production of explosive weapons. While this transparency arises from a moral perspective that is currently lacking at UK level, there could be an opportunity for Scotland to take the moral position by condemning EWIPA , supporting the Irish Declaration and bringing this information to the public.
There are opportunities for Scotland although there is a huge challenge in advancing the solution when there is a significant lack of transparency in how news is reported. Looking back at the Yemen study case when the journalists did not have access to accurate information, shows how there is a major challenge to protect the vulnerable civilians due to an unrealistic perception people have on war as a complex and never-ending issue.
The discussion included the encouragement and appreciation EWIPA has for some key players or countries who are actively engaged in this issue and very supportive of Ireland’s lead on the political declaration like Belgium and France, noting that Scotland could join their perspective even if it cannot take legislative action.
As a representative of the UNHS in the discussion, Bioantika valued the opportunity for youths to be involved and have a say in formulating today’s and tomorrow’s solution. The youths themselves will be the main drivers for the next solutions. This includes examining the issues from a broad perspective, speaking our minds, and listening to the concerns of every stakeholder in order to propose a comprehensive solution.
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