The next UK General Election is set for July 4 – which means now is the moment to ask the country’s political parties to commit to taking the actions needed to reduce the impact of conflict and armed violence on communities worldwide.

Read more about why we are taking this stand and what we’re calling for below.

Our calls to the UK’s political parties

Conflict and armed violence are on the rise. There are more than 100 active armed conflicts around the world, alongside many other situations of violence. International norms that apply to conflict are under threat of being eroded and disregarded, and the risk to civilians has rarely been higher. 

As a humanitarian, development and peacebuilding organisation, MAG’s work is focused on limiting the causes and addressing the consequences of conflict and armed violence. This includes working to reduce the risk of harm to communities from small arms, light weapons, and ammunition, and responding where people are at immediate risk of death and injury due to the presence of landmines, cluster munitions and other explosive remnants of war. We draw on our experience and expertise to influence policy at national, regional, and international levels, by amplifying the voices of affected communities and advocating for measures that will lead to positive change. 

Influencing has been part of our work from the beginning. In 1997, MAG was a co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for its role in the international campaign that led to the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, which the UK Government was among the first to sign. The Convention is still regarded as one of the most successful disarmament treaties in the world and was the first to put the needs of people and communities at the forefront, strengthening adherence to international humanitarian law (IHL) and aiming to protect civilians from the immediate and long-term impact of conflict. Since then, millions of landmines have been destroyed and countless lives have been saved around the world. 

With the UK’s next General Election set for July 4, there is a window of opportunity to encourage whichever party or parties form the next Government to work with us to continue advancing this agenda – upholding the rules-based international order, promoting peace, and helping to keep people and communities safe from the harm caused by explosive weapons. 

It is not possible for people to prosper and fulfil their potential when conflict and armed violence threaten lives, livelihoods, and human rights. Basic needs cannot be met, and hard-won development gains are reversed. Sustained efforts are needed to curb the availability of firearms and ammunition and create the essential conditions for security and development. 

That’s why we are today asking the UK’s political parties to recommit to upholding and championing international humanitarian law, and to tackle the causes and consequences of conflict and armed violence, ensuring that the needs of people affected are reflected in manifestos and future policy plans.

What we are calling for

Commit to tackle the causes and consequences of conflict and armed violence. International conflicts, civil wars, the prevalence of armed non-state actors, and high levels of armed violence cause suffering and instability around the world, hindering development and reversing hard-won gains. Illicit flows of small arms, light weapons, and ammunition, as well as new use of landmines and other explosive ordnance, are just some of the challenges facing many countries.

We are calling on all parties to ensure that the UK’s international and development policy keeps pace with the world as it is now, and invests in the work needed to address the drivers and consequences of conflict and armed violence - such as:

  • Establishing new partnerships, including with states, regional bodies, and civil society, to help reduce illicit flows of small arms and light weapons alongside conflict prevention initiatives. 
  • Continuing to invest in the UK’s leading Global Mine Action Programme to remove landmines and unexploded ordnance in countries affected by ongoing and historic conflicts. 

Championing these issues on the international stage while simultaneously investing in practical programmes to tackle their impacts could enable the next UK Government to make meaningful progress in reducing the toll of conflict and armed violence and contributing to global peace and security. 

Commit to upholding and championing international humanitarian law at home and among allies and partners. 

The UK has a strong track record of acting as a global champion for international humanitarian law and associated frameworks. The UK was among the first states to sign both the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention (1997) and the Convention on Cluster Munitions (2008), and under successive governments has been a leading supporter of the work to clear explosive ordnance and make communities safer. More recently in 2022, the UK endorsed a Political Declaration committing to restrict the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, recognising the serious harm caused to civilians. The recent escalation of conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East show all too clearly that we cannot take international law and its norms for granted - we need governments who are prepared to champion these essential principles and urge others to do the same, through actions such as: 

  • Acting as a global leader on the implementation of international treaties and instruments, such as the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, the Convention on Cluster Munitions, the Political Declaration on the Use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas, and the Arms Trade Treaty
  • Promoting universal endorsement of relevant international treaties and instruments through UK diplomacy, and supporting our bilateral partners to fully implement them. 

By taking an active diplomatic approach to encourage stronger protection of civilians universally, the UK can carve out a global role that makes the most of its international influence and promotes its core values around the world.