Wide-area impact: Investigating the wide-area effect of explosive weapons

Overton, I., Craig, I. and Perkins, R.
Publication language
Date published
29 Feb 2016
Research, reports and studies
Conflict, violence & peace
Syria, Ukraine, Yemen
Action on Armed Violence

Explosive weapons include a wide range of ordnance, both manufactured and improvised. They range in size and scale from hand grenades to massive ballistic ‘Scud’ missiles. They may be dropped from helicopters and drones, fired by tanks and artillery systems, or launched by hand. What unites all these weapons is their shared ability to project blast and fragmentation effects from around a point of detonation. All explosive weapons, in this way, affect an area. Their killing and maiming capacity cannot be limited to a single point, as a sniper’s bullet may. They kill or injure anyone, or damage anything, in their vicinity.

The use of such weapons in a populated area is, therefore, of grave concern as it exposes civilians to a high and unacceptable risk of harm. Since 2011, UK-based charity Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) has recorded the immediate impacts of explosive weapons around the world. Between 2011 and 2014, civilians made up 90 per cent of casualties when explosive weapons were used in populated areas. In other, non-populated, areas this fell to 34 per cent.