Informal consultations on a draft political declaration on EWIPA - 6 to 8 April, 2022 [fr]
H.E. Mr. Yann HWANG spoke at the informal consultations on a draft political declaration on explosive weapons in populated areas, organized by Ireland from 06 to 08 April 2022 in Geneva.
First of all, I would like to thank Ireland for organising these consultations. This initiative on the protection of civilians from the humanitarian consequences of the use of explosive weapons in populated areas is a very important subject. Now more than ever, we need to think of ways to reduce human suffering, taking into account the experience gained by States and representatives of civil society.
Attacks on the civilian population and the deliberate use of weapons against civilians that cause major destructive effects are unacceptable. The indiscriminate use of explosive weapons in areas with large numbers of civilians is likely to result in considerable loss of life and the destruction of vital infrastructure. The resulting human and socio-economic effects can be devastating and long-lasting.
Both current events and recent history bear witness to this. Russia is currently waging siege warfare in Ukraine, in the context of an armed aggression in flagrant violation of the UN Charter and the founding principles on which the international order and European security are based. Russia is relentlessly bombing Ukrainian cities and deliberately striking civilians and civilian infrastructure, including schools and hospitals. It is completely ignoring the basic principles of international humanitarian law and is pursuing a full-blown strategy of terror. The indiscriminate and deliberate targeting of civilians in Ukraine is undoubtedly a war crime. The international community must ensure that those responsible are brought to justice.
Russia’s action in this conflict is intolerable and must be condemned. It is regrettable that those actors who are evading their obligations to respect IHL and committing serious violations of international humanitarian law are not present today.
The consultations we are holding today must aim to strengthen the protection of civilian populations and their living environment in a concrete and sustainable way. They must aim to prevent and reduce human suffering. To this end, we must strongly reaffirm the rules and principles of international humanitarian law. We must urge states and non-state actors, whoever they may be, to immediately cease the deliberate targeting of civilian populations, the indiscriminate attacks on civilians and their property and the acts of terror that we are witnessing today. We must work together to ensure that they are better respected. We must work together to strengthen the implementation of concrete measures to ensure full respect for these rules and principles, while taking into account the challenges posed by the urban environment. Indeed, the future declaration will only be meaningful if it truly enables certain practices to change. In this respect, France calls on States to strengthen their capacities in order to integrate into their arsenal means that allow for ever greater discrimination and adaptation to the military objective in terms of proportionality, and to integrate measures that make it possible to meet the challenges of urban warfare into military doctrine and at the tactical, operational and strategic levels.
A large number of states fully comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law. In order to limit the effects of military operations on civilians, military leaders within the French armed forces study all available options and modes of action. They implement a rigorous targeting process that integrates the principles of International Humanitarian Law to minimise, if not avoid, any risk of civilian casualties and damage. In operations where explosive ordnance is likely to be used in populated areas, France uses technical means and attack trajectories to minimise potential collateral damage. In the event of an unfavourable assessment of the effects of the strike in relation to the anticipated military benefit, the armed forces refrain from striking. We continue to stand ready, as we have already indicated on several occasions, to share our good practices for applying the principles of this law into the reality of military operations in urban areas.
In conclusion, allow me to assure you of France’s full commitment to this process, and to welcome the mobilisation of the international community to ensure full respect for international humanitarian law and the protection of civilians.
I thank you.