Unfortunately, war zones are not immune to COVID-19. But conflict—particularly the use of explosive weapons in populated areas (EWIPA)—does make an effective response to the virus almost impossible. UN Secretary-General António Guterres noted the relationship between COVID-19 and conflict in his March appeal for a global ceasefire.
Even though multilateral arms control and disarmament efforts are of critical importance every year, the international security landscape was at a particularly troubling juncture just before the pandemic, not least because of risks associated with nuclear weapons.
The use of explosive weapons in populated areas (EWIPA), by both state and nonstate actors, has become a top humanitarian concern, given the devastating impact it has on civilian lives and livelihoods.
Today, armed conflict is more often being waged in urban areas. Urban warfare increases the likelihood of the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. Authoritative research has verified widespread use—by both state and non-state actors—in some of the most devastating contemporary conflicts.