I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union. The Candidate Countries Turkey, Montenegro[*], Serbia* and Albania*, as well as Armenia align themselves with this statement.
I would like to thank Ireland for the transparent and inclusive consultation process on Protecting Civilians in Urban Warfare which you have launched with the aim to contribute to the elaboration of a Political Declaration with a view to addressing the humanitarian harm arising from the indiscriminate and disproportionate use of explosive weapons in populated areas.
The EU is gravely concerned about the indiscriminate and disproportionate use of explosive weapons in densely populated areas and the impact of such use on civilians and civilian objects. We recall that international law, in particular International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law, fully applies to the employment of all weapons systems and that those who employ these weapons remain responsible and accountable for their use. Ensuring compliance with IHL is crucial particularly when armed conflicts are increasingly fought in urban areas, exposing civilians and civilian infrastructure to substantial risks. Indiscriminate attacks directed against civilians and civilian objects, including the recurrence of attacks against medical facilities, schools and humanitarian workers, and the arbitrary denial of humanitarian access to people in need are all unacceptable, yet reported on a regular basis. The EU expresses its serious concern about the growing number of breaches of IHL and calls on all parties to all conflicts to respect IHL and the humanitarian principles. The EU remains strongly committed to the fight against impunity for atrocity crimes.
The EU will continue to promote compliance with IHL and humanitarian principles in its own activities as well as in its relations with third parties, as expressed in the EU Guidelines on Promoting Compliance with IHL. We agree to give further attention to the issue, raise awareness of the challenges associated with the indiscriminate and disproportionate use of explosive weapons, in violation of IHL, in densely populated areas and their impact on civilians and civilian objects, and share best practices with the aim to protect the civilian populations and civilian objects from the effects of hostilities. We support the continuation of discussions on these issues within appropriate frameworks, including the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) and other relevant fora. We are willing to contribute to exchanges of best practices to enhance compliance with IHL and to engage in further work.
On the proposed political declaration, EU Member States will express their views on the issue in the consultation process.
Thank you, Mr. Chair
[*] Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.