This piece was originally published on the Humanitarian Disarmament site.

An updated brochure on humanitarian disarmament, recently published by Harvard Law School’s Armed Conflict and Civilian Protection Initiative (ACCPI), offers an overview of this people-centered approach to governing weapons. The brochure aims to provide a better understanding of the cross-cutting concept of humanitarian disarmament as well as an introduction to the key issues it covers.

Credit: Cathy Tutaev for ACCPI, 2023.

Humanitarian disarmament seeks to prevent and remediate arms-inflicted human suffering and environmental harm through the establishment and implementation of norms.

The brochure, which updates a 2019 version, describes the purpose, process, and players of humanitarian disarmament. As the brochure explains, “Humanitarian disarmament prioritizes protecting the security and well-being of people rather than states.” The approach’s process “is characterized by inclusiveness, independence, and adaptability.” It involves states, civil society, international organizations, survivors and affected communities, and the public.

The brochure introduces nine key humanitarian disarmament issues, as well as two other civilian protection issues that the approach has influenced, highlighting their origins, aims, and accomplishments. The brochure includes a list of humanitarian disarmament campaigns and contacts associated with those issues. It provides a timeline of major events from 1992-2023, such as the formation of civil society coalitions, major calls for action, and adoption of international instruments. The brochure concludes with a list of humanitarian disarmament resources.

The brochure was launched at the Humanitarian Disarmament Forum on October 21-22 in New York. The Forum is an annual gathering of civil society advocates working with a wide range of humanitarian disarmament campaigns, which is held in the margins of the UN General Assembly First Committee on Disarmament and International Security. This year’s Forum was co-organized by Amnesty International, Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic, and Mines Action Canada.

Credit: Cathy Tutaev for ACCPI, 2023.

The 2023 Humanitarian Disarmament brochure is available in four languages: 

The Armed Conflict and Civilian Protection Initiative wishes to thank Amnesty International for its assistance with translation to Arabic, French, and Spanish.