Explosive weapons in populated areas

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Armed conflicts are increasingly fought in population centres – but often with weapon systems that are designed for open battlefields. When used in populated areas, explosive weapons are very likely to have indiscriminate effects. Up to 90% of those killed and injured in such situations there are civilians. Many more are affected when social, commercial, infrastructural, cultural, educational, religious and health-care facilities are shattered.

Parties in armed conflict must always give due weight to the reasonably foreseeable reverberating effects of using bombs, missiles, mortars, rockets, artillery and other explosive weaponry – certainly also in populated areas.

General Assembly

GA resolutions


Security Council

SG reports (relevant sections)

S/2018/462 paras 41, 42, 43, 44, 45

S/2017/414 paras 17, 18, 20, 79, 80

S/2016/447 paras 24-28

S/2015/453 paras 30-36

S/2013/689 paras 21, 34, 35, 69

S/2012/376 paras 11, 35-38, 41, 72, 75

S/2010/579 paras 48, 49, 51

S/2009/277 para 36

SG’s Disarmament Agenda (pp.34-36)

Casualty recording

The collection of data on civilian casualties is an important practical step for addressing concerns raised by the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.

Such data can inform dialogue and policy towards attaining SDG Targets; assist States in implementing Security Council arms embargoes; and in undertaking risk assessments preceding the transfers of conventional weapons where applicable.

Casualty recording mechanism

The UN and casualty recording

UNAMA report on the protection of civilians in armed conflict