A new solution for combating urban warfare has been proposed

Children play among ruins in Raqqa Children play among ruins in Raqqa Amnesty International/PA

27 October 2020

A meeting spearheaded by the Center For Civilians in Conflict has laid out a comprehensive plan that will protect innocent lives

Urban warfare, unfortunately, results in cruel and unforgiving consequences to the most vulnerable populations. Innocent civilians are thus forced to reap what their leaders and foreign attackers sow. In other words, it is the people who are left with destruction, death, and extreme poverty inflicted by unrelenting urban, armed conflicts. Sadly, these issues carry on for generations, posing difficulties in attaining a dignified quality of life.

As we begin a new decade, these main issues are continuously expanding and go hand in hand together. The increase of population in impoverished urban areas, alongside the difficulty of isolating innocent civilians from military targets, paints a bleak picture of the future. Furthermore, the loss of lives within areas that hold a large number of population density still cannot be fully avoided, even when modern weapon technology is used. For that reason, a round table discussion hosted by the International Institute of Humanitarian Law (IIHL), allowed for conversations aimed at creating an approach that  sought to mitigate the loss of civilian life.   

During the discussion, the director of the Center for Civilian in Conflict (CIVICS), Sahr Muhammedally, emphasized the necessity of implementing a “comprehensive civilian harm mitigation (CHM) life cycle.” This is defined as a plan that would deal with the decisions and military actions of all armed actors within a specific conflict. Furthermore, it would seek to provide guidance to specific core issues, such as: “mission/mandate development, use of force guidance, scenario-based training, tactical execution, intelligence gathering, choice of munition style, pre-and post-strike assessment, and learning and adapting to local culture.” 

This new comprehensive plan would facilitate a better organized military strategy in hopes of protecting innocent civilians caught up in  inter/intra state conflicts. Thus, one of the prime focuses of the CHM strategy will be to create a joint partnership, through linking both risk and military postoperative assessments, in order to save lives. This will ensure that the International Humanitarian Law is obeyed and that military actors begin to track civilian deaths when they occur. Sadly, these numbers are often overlooked, resulting in armed actors avoiding accountability. Muhammedally closed his speech by emphasising the need for a comprehensive action plan that would lessen humanitarian suffering, and would solidify the pre-existing laws that protect human rights across the world.

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Author: Sergio Gomez; Editor: Aleksandra Krol

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