The Civilian Protection Podcast

The bombing of towns and cities, or the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, leads to vast civilian harm, destruction of civilian infrastructure, and long-term humanitarian consequences. In this episode, we take you behind the scenes of the signing of a landmark political declaration on explosive weapons in populated areas (EWIPA), signed by over 80 nations in Dublin last month.

Show Notes

The bombing of towns and cities, or the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, leads to vast civilian harm, destruction of civilian infrastructure, and long-term humanitarian consequences. In this episode, we take you behind the scenes of the signing of a landmark political declaration on explosive weapons in populated areas (EWIPA), signed by over 80 nations in Dublin last month.

  • Hajer Naili, Director of Communications, CIVIC 
  • Sahr Muhammedally, Director for MENA & South Asia, CIVIC
  • Roos Boer, Project Lead Humanitarian Disarmament, PAX 
This podcast is brought to you by CIVIC and PAX. This episode was written by Annie Shiel and Hajer Naili, with assistance from Marc Garlasco, Tate Musinahama and Selma van Oostwaard.

To learn more about explosive weapons in populated areas and the EWIPA Declaration, see:
This episode includes live recordings of the November 2022 Dublin Conference to Adopt the Political Declaration on Strengthening the Protection of Civilians from the Humanitarian Consequences Arising from the Use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas.

You can find a full transcript of this episode here.

What is The Civilian Protection Podcast?

Every day, 100 civilians are killed in conflict and countless more are harmed, often without recognition, recourse, or justice. Yet their perspectives are repeatedly missing from the stories we tell about war and the way we think about war’s costs.

The Civilian Protection Podcast, brought to you by CIVIC and PAX, shares the voices of people affected by war, the dangers they face, the choices they make, and what can be done to better protect them -- because we believe it’s time to put them at the center of the discussion.

Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC) envisions a world in which no civilian is harmed in conflict. We support communities affected by conflict in their quest for protection and strengthen the resolve and capacity of armed actors to prevent and respond to civilian harm.

PAX works to protect civilians living in conflict. Our purpose is to reduce civilian harm, end armed violence and build sustainable peace around the world. To achieve this, we work closely with civil society and authorities at local and international levels to put civilian perspectives first.

Season 2 Episode 3
A Landmark Declaration on Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas
Episode Transcript

Marc: This podcast contains content that may be alarming to some listeners. Listener discretion is advised.

Teaser Clip: Every day 100 civilians are killed in conflict and countless more are harmed, yet their perspectives are often missing from the stories we tell about war. This is the Civilian Protection Podcast. A monthly podcast produced by CIVIC and PAX.

Irish Foreign Minister Coveney (at the signing conference of the political declaration of explosive weapons in populated areas in Dublin, 18 November 2022): Ministers, excellencies, distinguished delegates, thank you so much for taking the time to be with us here in Dublin on what is a hugely important day in terms of an international statement on a very important issue. It is my great pleasure to welcome you to Ireland and indeed to Dublin castle, as today, we take a major step forward to protect civilians from explosive weapons in populated areas.

Annie: Hi everyone – this is Annie Shiel, Senior Advisor for the United States at Center for Civilians in Conflict

Marc: And I’m Marc Garlasco, Military Advisor from PAX. Our organizations work in conflicts around the world to protect civilians caught in war.

Annie: Today we’re going to take you behind the scenes of a landmark international declaration signed by over 80 countries last month – the political declaration on strengthening the protection of civilians from the humanitarian consequences arising from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas – also known by its acronym E-W-I-P-A or EWIPA for short, a phrase you’ll hear a few times in this episode.

Marc: Our teams at CIVIC and PAX have been working for years alongside civil society partners and states to make this declaration a reality. And they traveled to Dublin a couple weeks ago to attend the signing conference, where they reported live.

Annie: So, without further ado, we’re going to hand it over to them – Hajer Naili, CIVIC’s Director of Communications; Sahr Muhammedally, CIVIC’s Director for the Middle East and North Africa, and our lead on urban warfare; and Roos Boer, PAX’s Project Lead on Humanitarian Disarmament and EWIPA expert.

Marc: We start in a hotel room in Dublin, about twenty-four hours before the signing begins – where Hajer, Sahr, and Roos are getting ready for the first day of the conference, a civil society forum to endorse the declaration.

Hajer: Hi, my name is Hajer Naili and I am the Director of Communications at Center for Civilians in Conflict, CIVIC. In this new episode of the Civilian Protection Podcast, we are taking you behind the scenes of the final moments preceding the signing conference of the political declaration on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. These weapons have devastating consequences on civilians. These weapons kill, maim and displace civilians while damaging and destroying civilian infrastructure. To give you an idea, here is one staggering number when explosive weapons are used in town cities and other crowded areas, and 90% of victims are civilians. In other words, the use of explosive weapons in populated areas has now become the leading cause of civilian casualties in today's armed conflicts. The political declaration is the first formal international recognition that when cities and towns are bombed, civilians are the ones who suffer the most, from Mosul to Mogadishu to Tripoli and Kharkiv. There are no shortage of examples. That is why action to eliminate the harm to civilians caused by the use of explosive weapons in populated areas must be taken urgently. Unlike most of our previous episodes, this one is recorded close to where the action is. So we are in Dublin, the Irish capital where representatives of dozens of countries are gathering to endorse and sign the Declaration. We are taking you along for the next 36 hours.

[Transition sound into interview]

Hajer: Today is Thursday, the 17th of November. We are on the eve of the signing conference of the political declaration on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. We are in Dublin. The declaration is the result of three years of consultations and negotiations and advocacy and campaigning. CIVIC, and PAX, have been actively engaged in these efforts. I'm sitting with two colleagues who spearheaded these efforts, they will help us understand better what is at stake over the next two days in Dublin and how the declaration can make a difference in protecting civilian lives. I'm joined by Sahr MuhammadAli, CIVIC’s director of the Middle East and North Africa program, and Roos Boer, project leader for humanitarian disarmament at PAX. Good morning. So let's set the scene again for our listeners. And if you could tell us what is happening now in Dublin and more particularly tomorrow on November 18.

Roos: So we are here in Dublin today, because on Friday, we expect 60 states to convene to sign the political declaration on strengthening the protection of civilians against the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.

Sahr: And this is a culmination of, as you were saying, three years of negotiations between states, the International Committee of the Red Cross the ICRC, the UN and civil society organizations, and Roos and I, while we represent our individual organizations, we are part of the international network of explosive weapons in populated areas. That is a consortium of NGOs advocating raising awareness on the humanitarian consequences from the use of such weapons and pushing states to change their military policies and practices. So it's pretty exciting that we're here. And this effort has been ongoing for about a decade.

Hajer: So there are two elements we would like to focus on in this conversation. One is explosive weapons in populated areas, and the other is a political declaration. So maybe let's start with the explosive weapons in populated areas and help our listeners understand what are these explosive weapons.

Sahr: So I think just to set the stage, about why we are here, tomorrow, and what has happened over the last 10 years to get to this stage in terms of really seeing what the patterns of harms to civilians, current conflicts and future conflicts are taking place in urban areas. Urban warfare is impacting on 50 million people were worldwide. It is one of the most difficult things to conduct military operations in urban areas, because of the terrain, the buildings, subterranean underground areas, the presence of the population, presence of critical infrastructure such as hospitals, power, electric power facilities, water treatment facilities. And we have seen that when explosive weapons are used in populated areas, 90% of casualties are civilians. So they are both direct effects from the use of these weapons to civilians in terms of deaths, injuries, displacement, as well as when these weapons impact hospitals and electric power grids and water treatment facilities and they are degraded or damaged, the civilian population is unable to use these essential services that they need to survive. So that also leads to displacement. And we've seen in current conflict that there's protracted displacement because these areas are unhabitable. And the challenges for civilians and why all of us have come together – you know, very, you know, states have been leading on this too – but civil society is, all of us who are working in conflict areas, in war zones, are seeing the direct impact to civilians. PAX has been doing research on the ground, CIVIC has been doing research on the ground and to other organizations. And we have then been raising awareness on the humanitarian impact and what can be done by states. And we're happy to discuss more in terms of the actual commitments in the political declaration. But I just wanted to set the scene that this call to action is based on data from the ground and saying this is unacceptable. The consequences to civilians are unacceptable and something has to change.

Roos: I think the indirect effects of explosive weapons are really important to note here also today, because towns and cities often host critical infrastructure that's that civilians depend on, right? And these effects are often overlooked. So we read the news in newspapers about the direct casualties of deaths and injuries. But often we overlook the long term and intertwined pattern of harm that arises. When water surfaces are impacted, a hospital will not be able to wash its patients, provide water, but also the heating doesn't work. In Avdiivka, I spoke to a nurse who was injured by fragments from a shell that was operated in the hospital she worked in, because the electricity was off, she was operated under candlelight. This obviously meant that many of the fragments were missed, and they were still in her body. And this is just an example of how these effects influence each other and what the impact is for civilians.

Hajer: This is very helpful to hear, providing us with a picture of the nature of warfare changing, moving to towns and cities. Now, maybe Roos, can you go deeper into the type of weapons we are talking about here?

Roos: Explosive weapons basically refers to a type of weapon that's that detonate, and that projects blast and fragmentation around two point of detonation, right? A hand grenade, but also a heavy aircraft bomb. So it's a very wide range of weapons. But what they have in common is that they project blast loss and fragmentation. There's, there's a range, and there's a range in risk that they pose to civilians when these weapons are used in populated areas. And I think the main, the main factor that will, that will dictate the risk to civilians is how far the effects will extend from point of destination. This is often referred to as wide area effects. And wide area effects can can flow from from three different characteristics. And one, if you have a very big high explosive load and a very big blast, for example, in big, big wave or fragmentation, the impact area will be bigger than if you're talking about the small explosive. So that's one characteristic. Second, if you use multiple munitions over an area, of course, the wide area will also increase. And then last, but certainly not least, is the inaccuracy of a weapon system. And that means that you basically don't know in a sense where a weapon will land exactly. And this, of course, is extremely problematic if you use such an inaccurate weapon in a populated area, because it's reasonably first to be foreseen that you will not hit a target, but instead hits civilian objects or civilians. So I think these wide area effects are very problematic. And it's especially that category of weapons that, you know, poses civilians at great risk when these weapons are used in towns and cities.

Hajer: So now that we have described what these explosive weapons are, and now we understand better the consequences and the damage they cause, especially on civilians and civilians, civilian infrastructure, can we move on to the political declaration? And can you explain what is this political declaration about what is what this document contains?

Roos: Yes, I think, first and foremost, it's the first formal recognition of the unacceptable consequences of the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. This is really important, because if you recognize the problem, you have the first step to addressing the problem. And I think that the declaration really does a good job in describing both the direct and indirect effects these weapons have on civilians. So that's the first really important thing in the Declaration, the acknowledgement of the humanitarian problems, how to say. The declaration has a central commitment that dictates that militaries should restrict or refrain from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, when their use is expected to cause harm to civilians or civilian objects. This is a very important commitment, of course about the use. Then there's also commitments that states are making in the declaration to collect and share data on the effects of the use of explosive weapons, and also to provide support and assistance to victims and their communities.

Sahr: And if I can just add, one of the really interesting and positive aspects of this declaration is, first, there's a recognition that, you know, all military operations should be, of course conducted in adherence to international humanitarian law. But it's a call to action that changes are needed to military practices and policies and training to specifically understand what the risks to civilians are and to civilian objects, and how to adapt to the complicated and very challenging environment of conducting operations in populated areas. What this declaration does in recognizing the humanitarian consequences, particularly in the use of these type of weapons in populated areas, is ask military's, no, you need to go back, you need to change and you need to examine what sort of policies you have in terms of the, as Roos was saying, you know, refraining and restricting the use of a particular type of weapons in populated areas because of the grave consequences.

Hajer: So now can we go back to where it all started and tell us how this all journey towards the declaration as it is right now, all began.

Sahr: So CIVIC, I’ll talk about from CIVIC’s perspective, in 2011, CIVIC worked with African Union mission in Somalia to help draft their indirect fire policy. And a lot of these weapons that we're talking about are indirect, fire weapons, indirect what, because they don't directly land on the target. And as part of that, because there was reports that when 120 millimeter artillery was landing in Mogadishu a lot of civilians were being impacted, and there was a lot of reputational harm and criticism to AMISOM, and they took the leadership and the initiative to say, something has to change. So this indirect fire policy was written that refrained and restricted the use of indirect fires in populated areas, and then also CIVIC worked with them to create the civilian casualty assessment tracking tool. Now other NATO forces in Afghanistan also had policy guidance from the commanders restricting airstrikes in residential areas, creating civilian casualty tracking cells, doing better battle damage assessments. So suddenly, we were hearing about these good tools and practices. At the same time, you know, a lot of us were also documenting the harm to civilians in all these conflicts. And in 2011, I think it was Austria who first began the conversation and, and then since then, the ICRC, OCHA, PAX, CIVIC, a lot of other NGOs, Humanity & Inclusion, Article 36, other civil society organizations, sort of came together and started raising awareness on the humanitarian consequences. And CIVIC was participating in those conversations, to share that there are good practices and policies out there that could be used, and should be shared with other militaries in order to stem the tide, and to reduce civilian harm in this particular context. And so there were a lot of awareness raising sessions and conferences that we all were participating in. And then in 2019, Austria convened a conference on the protection of civilians in urban warfare, 130 states attended it, civil society, and that then led to the process with Ireland taking the lead in starting the negotiation and drafting the political declaration, and began 2019, in November, the first time we all met, to discuss the political declaration, the draft, and then even despite COVID and everything, we met online, and again, you know, credit goes to the leadership of Ireland, and they were very persistent. And they had a very difficult task of negotiating the text. You know, between states and, you know, states have their own perspective, civil society, humanitarian organizations have their own perspective, and trying to formulate and negotiate the language. Again, you know, credit goes to Ireland's leadership in this process, and we have a really forward leaning document. Rose I'm sure you have a lot to add to what I just said, so, over to you.

Roos: Thanks. I think I think it was already in 2009 when the UN Secretary General mentions in his protection of civilians report his concerns about the use of explosive weapons. And I think what really took us there was that it was not just states, not just civil society, but also UN organizations, the ICRC, it’s the partnership, and that grew over the years and years and years of different actors with different fields of constituencies and fields of expertise. And I mean in the beginning years it was Austria convening and it was a smaller group of states, and a lot of focus was indeed on documenting the harm, making sure the explosive weapons terminology was accepted by states. And there was a lot of awareness raising indeed, I think there was also a sense of addressing a moral outrage gap, because there was a lot of acceptance, right, if you go war there’s collateral damage, and explosive weapons are just being used, and don’t touch it. And I think there's a change in how we look at the use of explosive weapons and populated areas has been a big shift over the last decade. And then from a smaller group of states we expanded the group and indeed, Vienna was a milestone in the sense that there were so many states there and also how Ireland announced their roadmap towards the political declaration. And then when we were almost there, I think it was like the last final consultation on the text of the political declaration, then COVID hit, and there was another two years added to the process in which we had to convene the meetings online. And personally I was quite worried in that moment. I thought we’re almost there, and then there’s this setback, and how do you keep the momentum if you can’t meet and can’t negotiate – it’s a diplomatic process, you can’t really do that if you’re online, right? But I think we managed, and under the great leadership of Ireland, we are now here today.

Hajer: So, with a lot of actors involved in that process, the declaration is obviously the result of many compromises and probably a good amount of frustration. Could you speak of commitments or language that you campaigned for but did not make it into the final draft?

Roos: Yes, you're right. I mean, the text is always a compromise, I think PAX would have liked to see the reference to wide areas effects in the central commitment, to ensure that states refrain from the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas. But on the other hand, the description of the wide area effects is in the preamble right, and if that states review the text, their course of action will follow from the problems as described in the preamble. With regard to the data gathering, it says where feasible and appropriate, I think it would have been stronger if we would have not mentioned appropriate – it’s always appropriate, it’s a question of being possible or not; appropriate, I think it is always. But that's, that's my view. But I think in general, considering the fact that it will be a compromise, I think it's a good basis, I think it's a good starting point for positive change. And when implemented in, in good faith, I think this declaration really has a potential to have an impact. But yeah, it's not the end of the road, it’s a starting point, it's a milestone. But the real work starts here. But I think the interpretation and the implementation of the political declaration is really, you know, the core of the change it will have for civilians in conflict.

Sahr: After tomorrow is focusing on implementation. And political will and leadership is needed. And it's not, it’s for states to say, enough for states, these commitments are going to be implemented and applied for all conflicts if they are a call to action, either defending their country or in support of partner forces, or if they're called to participate in a military coalition. It doesn't matter if it's a counterinsurgency operation or counterterrorism operation, these kinds of commitments should be implemented for all types of situations of armed conflict and urban warfare, large scale combat operations, and how these commitments should be also adapted, and resourced to the more difficult kinds of operations where you have in urban areas. So now, tomorrow, we will be celebrating a milestone. And, you know, we will stay vigilant, you know, to ensure that states in good faith are implementing these commitments, and what overhaul they're going to be doing to their policies, their training, their practices, their doctrine, and sharing these good practices.

Hajer: So after the signature begins the implementation phase. And so before we end this conversation, can you briefly speak of how we make sure that countries are on track, and are truly making the changes and taking the actions they committed to?

Sahr: So the Declaration calls for, I think, Article 4.7, asks states to meet on a regular basis to review the implementation of the Declaration and how it is identifying any additional measures that is going to take, and then to exchange good policies and practices. And the Declaration also are states to include the perspective and participation of the United Nations, ICRC, other relevant international organizations and civil society organizations. So having these very structured intergovernmental and military to military exchange, complemented from the perspective of the external actors. Because we have seen, and again, this from CIVIC’s perspective too, there will always be gaps in any military assessment of what they're doing. And so it is so important to get the perspective of conflict impacted communities, from civil society, because they are on the ground, they have access and are able to move around areas that sometimes military forces may not because of force protection reasons or other reasons. So having this holistic approach is really important. And the development of the Declaration was in this very inclusive approach, very collaborative approach, bringing in the perspectives of all states, militaries, NGOs, the UN and ICRC. And, again, the spirit of this Declaration and implementation also calls that this kind of regular exchange is, sort of continues. And I think tomorrow, we will also find out which state is going to sort of take the lead in sort of facilitating, we hope, I don't know, in facilitating this coordinating role of states meeting to discuss how they're implementing the Declaration, and I hope we learn more about it tomorrow.

Hajer: Sahr and Rose, this was very, very helpful. Thank you. We'll speak again tomorrow. Tomorrow we will also will be in the room as countries endorse officially the declaration and we will be there to remind them that what they do after can mean a difference between life and death. Thank you. Thank you

Jane-Ann McKenna at the opening of the CSO forum, Dublin, 17 November 2022: Good afternoon, my name is Jane-Ann McKenna, I’m the CEO of Dochas, which is the Irish network for international development and humanitarian organizations here in Ireland. And we’re delighted to be co-hosting…

Marc: We now fast forward to about ten hours later – the CIVIC and PAX team have just wrapped up Day 1 of the conference, a gathering of civil society groups and states coming together in advance of the signing.

Hajer: Survivors of armed conflicts, activists, members of international organizations, as well as government representatives, such as Ireland and Austria, came together today on the eve of the signing conference of the political declaration on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas to celebrate a significant milestone for the protection of civilians in armed conflict. Today is a moment of celebration. That's a feeling that was repeatedly shared in Dublin by most of parties that have taken part in this process of drafting and negotiating a political declaration. International organizations also describe the political declaration as a strong document with the potential to save civilian lives if implemented correctly, and rapidly. The Irish Ambassador to the Permanent Mission of Ireland to the United Nations in Geneva, Michel Gaffey, explained that he never thought that we will be all here one day in Dublin to sign such a declaration.

Michael Gaffey: I think we need to see the this this issue as very much. It's not just the disarmament issue. It's a humanitarian issue. It's a political issue. But above all, it's it's it's, it's an issue of it's a moral issue and an issue of human decency.

And we've achieved it at a time when the world is not in a good place. And when we are experiencing crisis after crisis, interlocking crises that are affecting everyone, so the even the concept that we discussed ad nauseum of reverberating effects, I think we understand even better in these days, as every crisis that we face has an impact on every other crisis compounding them. So this is is a moment I think, for us to really savor, not to rest on our laurels, but at this point when so many people say that things are hopeless, we have managed to achieve something in the area of disarmament and humanitarian disarmament, which many thought we could not achieve.

Hajer: He also said that this political declaration is not a Ukraine declaration referring to the current war in Ukraine.

Michael Gaffey: And it's really important to state that this is not a Ukraine only agreement. This is an agreement about the use of explosive weapons in populated areas and the protection of civilians in armed conflict, wherever that conflict may be taking place, including Ukraine, but also Yemen, also Syria, also Iraq and elsewhere.

Hajer Continued: Survivors of the war in Syria were also in the room and shared what it was like to live under constant bombing. One survivor who fled Aleppo 10 years ago, Nujeen Mustafa, she told us that she used to turn up the volume of her TV in her living room to cover the sound of bombs falling over her city.

Nujeen Mustafa: I was 12 at the time, at the age where you all you care about your is your school test, or your favorite musical band. But I was, we were all afraid our lives. And it's not an experience experience that I would wish on anyone.

We were being bombed every day and we would wake up and sleep on the sound bombs. Constant air raids. Just it's not a psychological state that anyone should, would want to be in being constantly anxious and afraid. With my wheelchair, it was even it was even more I didn't have the choice to even go to a shelter. If things got very bad. I lived in a floor apartment with no lift. Which meant that if we needed to go we needed to seek shelter or hide immediately. It was not an option for me.

If we were lucky and had and had electricity I would just raise the volume of the television just so I wouldn't hear the sound coming. And it was you know, it was sad, you know, sad to see the city that I've loved all my life be destroyed and bombed for, for nonsensical reasons for no reason at all.

Hajer: She also explained that there is no time for countries to keep thinking if this is a declaration that they should sign or not, because she said time is not on the side of civilians in armed conflict today, and this sentiment was echoed across the room.

Nujeen: We don't have you know, we don't have time to sit down and negotiate and even talk about such a declaration being a possibility. It has, it should have happened years ago, and I'm happy that it's happening now because you know, being late is better than never arriving. But it's you know, it's not a topic where you can say maybe, and if, and yeah, we should see what we can do. It's it's not because, you know, human lives have been affected. People that have gone through these things, they're not numbers they're not, you know, they're not a statistic. They're not something they can read and ignore. And it's not just lives that are being threatened. When when you're in when you're in a war zone, you don't have any prospect for the future. You're not, you're not thinking about school or your future career when you're just trying to survive. It's not you know, and so, for example, in our case, generations of Syrians have, have not have not received a proper education have not, you know, have not taken the steps to build their future and reach their potential as individuals. And that's, and that's very sad.

[Ambient Music to Fade Out]

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney: Ministers, excellencies, distinguished delegates, thank you so much for taking the time to be with us here in Dublin on what is a hugely important day in terms of an international statement on a very important issue. It is my great pleasure to welcome you to Ireland and indeed to Dublin castle, as today, we take a major step forward to protect civilians from explosive weapons in populated areas.

Annie: That’s Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney. To orient our listeners, we’ve now arrived at the big day – November 18, the signing of this landmark document. Here’s how he opened the signing conference.

Simon Coveney Continued: For too long, we’ve seen appalling consequences for civilians, including Syria, Yemen, most recently we’re seeing the devastating consequences of explosive weapons used by Russian aggression against Ukraine. And it’s not often a byproduct of conflict, it is often a deliberate targeting of civilians in order to break the will of a people, community by community. Images of human suffering offer a stark reminder of the international community’s collective responsibility to address the root causes of humanitarian suffering, and reject absolutely reject any normalization of such scenes, somehow described cynically as collateral damage. We want this political declaration to be relevant to current and future conflicts by sending an unambiguous message on the fundamental importance of the protection of civilians always, regardless of circumstances.

Annie: Over the next few hours, 82 states would sign the political declaration – over 20 more than Sahr & Roos initially predicted.

Hajer: The commitments made on November 18, here in Dublin are a major step towards recognizing formally that actions to protect civilians from explosive weapons must be taken. Among the states that signed the political declaration, two stood out because they continue to face the persistent threat of armed conflicts and the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. It was Somalia and Palestine. Somalia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs reminded the audience of the deadly impact of explosive weapons on civilians and the destruction of infrastructure, while recognizing that the declaration offers essential tools to safeguard civilians. Palestine’s Ambassador also welcomed the declaration, saying by endorsing it, Palestinians are sending the message that the lives and the welfare of civilians must come first, no matter on which side of the conflict they are.

Annie: Here’s Hajer, Sahr, and Roos leaving Dublin castle that evening.

Hajer: So, Sahr and Roos, we're here. It's the end of the day on November 18, in Dublin. 80 states have announced that they are signing the political declaration. I want to hear from you. What happened today in the room? And how do you feel about 80 states signing the Declaration?

Sahr: It's actually 82. Oh, yes, that's so it's a pretty exciting, right, Roos, I mean, I don't know it was a very positive, most of the statements are very positive, very supportive of the collaborative process.

Roos: Yeah, I think the number of 82 is a smashing number, which is actually higher than they had expected in advance. And I think one other thing that happened today, which was very positive was that the next meeting was announced by Norway. So it is this, you know, point in the horizon and to move onward in a collaborative way it's to implement the declaration. I think, for me, it was also a highlight of today.

Sahr: And what I thought was also interesting, a lot of states talked about implementation and said, This is an urgent call to action, and we need to implement and some military active states were the ones who are saying it. And they were basically saying that all states and militaries should be implementing this. So I was very positive.

Roos: Implementing the declaration, also mentioning that there's always ways in which you can improve the implementation of existing policies, policies and practices. I think this was a very hopeful day, and it's promising for the near future.

[Ambient Music Fadeout]

Marc: In the end, 83 countries signed the political declaration – including the United States and many NATO members. Signatories came from around the world, from Africa to the Middle East to Latin America.

Annie: As our guests emphasized today, implementation cannot wait. CIVIC, PAX, and our partners will continue engaging with governments who signed the declaration to ensure their commitments are implemented rapidly and effectively, as well as to engage countries that didn’t sign to gain their support.

Marc: That’s it for this episode. Next up on the Civilian Protection Podcast, we’ll explore how climate change is driving conflict – and in turn civilian harm – in Iraq and Yemen.

Annie: The civilian protection podcast is brought to you by Center for Civilians in Conflict and PAX – two NGOs working to improve the lives of civilians caught in conflict. Today’s episode was written by Hajer Naili and Annie Shiel with assistance from Sahr Muhammedally, Roos Boer, Marc Garlasco, Selma van Oostwaard, Erin Bijl, and Tate Musinahama. It was produced by the Podcast Guru. Hajer Naili and Tate Musinahama made sure we’re online. We’d like to thank Sahr Muhammedally and Roos Boer for joining us as guests, as well as the numerous other speakers whose voices we featured today.

Marc: You can find us on Apple, Spotify, or anywhere you get your podcasts. We want to hear from you: share your thoughts on this episode or topics you’d like us to cover by emailing Follow us on Twitter and Instagram at ProtectionPod to stay up to date on our episodes and guest speakers, and to get behind-the-scenes content. Find full interviews and upcoming episodes on our websites, and

Thanks for listening.