Sparks are flying at Duck of Minerva over Landmine Action‘s claim that “explosive violence” is a humanitarian problem. In a recent essay Stephanie Carvin makes “the case against the case against blast weapons,” by which she means “explosive weapons” as described by Landmine Action’s recent report:
“The short version is that it is calling for a ban on so-called ‘blast-weapons’ as a method of warfare… I think that 1) the report is problematic; 2) that there may actually be a case for not banning such weapons – possibly even humanitarian ones. Instead, states AND humanitarians should look to regulation as a more effective alternative.
But as I understand it, Landmine Action is not calling for a complete ban on the weapons. The report only calls on states and global civil society to “strengthen further an underlying presumption that the use of explosive weapons in populated areas is unacceptable” (p. 14). I recently spoke with Director of Policy and Research Richard Moyes and he confirmed that Landmine Action is not proposing an outright ban such as a codified rule in an Additional Protocol to the Convention on Conventional Weapons. Rather, he said simply, “I’d like to see us establish a terrain in which there is a general concern rather than acceptance about the use of explosives in populated areas.”
In other words, Moyes and Carvin seem to be on the same page with respect to regulating conventional explosives. Carvin doesn’t elaborate what regulations she has in mind or why they would be more humanitarian than Moyes’, but some of the organization’s specific proposals include establishing a mechanism to accurately count civilian casualties from explosive violence so some determination can be empirically made about whether these weapons can or cannot be used in a controlled manner; and in particular to reduce their use in specific areas where civilian casualties are likely to be highest.
Carvin does have two deeper critiques about the report that bear further mention. I think both may have some validity but in my view, the first doesn’t actually undermine Moyes’ moral point, and the second merely ducks that point (no pun intended). Read more…