Two types of explosive weapons—antipersonnel landmines and cluster munitions—have been prohibited outright due to their indiscriminate and devastating  effect on civilians but the use of explosive weapons causing wide-area effects in populated areas requires urgent attention too. Today, victims of war are all too often civilians in populated areas, as air strikes, rocket attacks, and artillery shelling in Gaza, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Ukraine and elsewhere show. Civilians in towns and cities in these conflicts are often killed directly by the strike, crushed by the buildings it flattens, or maimed by the unexploded ordnance left behind. The use of imprecise weapons in urban areas has highly destructive consequences. Explosive weapons with wide-area effects should be avoided in populated areas due to the foreseeable harm to civilians.

Human Rights Watch is a founding member of the International Network on Explosive Weapons.