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Washington will monitor the deaths of civilians from U.S.-supplied weapons

The updated White House programme will require officials to review reports of foreign governments using American-made weapons against civilians, the WP reports.

This is the first initiative to minimise human casualties as a result of U.S. arms exports and military operations around the world.

On August 23, the State Department sent a new “Civilian Harm Incident Response Guidance (CHIRG)” to all foreign embassies and consulates. According to the document, officials will investigate reports of civilian harm by partner governments suspected of using American arms.

The move will help to track and punish reports of abuses involving foreign forces and U.S.-origin weapons. The Defenсe Department plans to use the initiative to prevent incidents such as a 2017 airstrike that killed 100 civilians in Iraq and a 2021 bombing that injured an aid worker in Afghanistan.

It is not only the right thing to do from a moral perspective. It is more effective for U.S. national security if our partners are using these items responsibly.

The sale of weapons abroad serves as an instrument of U.S. influence on foreign countries. According to the Arms Trade Forum, back in 2023, the Biden administration notified Congress of plans to sell $81 billion worth of weapons.

Sometimes American weapons were used by those for whom they were not intended. In Yemen, the Saudi-led coalition used American bombs to strike at civilian infrastructure. As a result, outraged American officials stopped selling certain weapons to Riyadh.

Advocates supported the new initiative, but specified that it must be backed by resources and a willingness to go against foreign partners.

The United States clearly has a vested interest in knowing what harm its weapons sales and security assistance cause to civilians.

Under the new system, officials will examine reports of abuses coming from diplomatic and intelligence channels, the United Nations, the media or civil society groups.

Officials said the measures chosen would depend on how the foreign government responded to the incident that harmed civilians. They also stated that, unlike the rules known as “end-use monitoring”, the new system involves not only protecting American technologies, but also considering their use by other countries.

Annie Shiel, U.S. advocacy director at the Center for Civilians in Conflict, called the new system an “important step” in tracking when and where American weapons are used against civilians.

The bill, introduced by Senator Robert Menendez and Member of the House of Representatives Gregory Meeks, will ensure that the new procedures cannot be canceled by a future administration.

Menendez told The Washington Post that the U.S. remains a “leading voice” on human rights while at the same time being the world leader in arms sales.

The U.S. therefore has a responsibility to ensure that its arms sales do not also purchase the blood of innocents through malign use.

Officials declined to say whether recent reports of Saudi government forces that may have used U.S.-origin equipment would be addressed. State Department officials said they did not plan to regularly release information about the investigations or make recommendations under the guidelines, which would not be retroactive.

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