Opening Statement at the Meeting of the High Contracting Parties to the CCW
The Meeting of the High Contracting Parties to the Convention on Prohibitions
or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed
to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects
U.S. Delegation Opening Statement
November 15, 2012
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. On behalf of the United States Delegation, I would like to congratulate you on your assumption of the Chair of the Meeting of States Parties and I am confident you will guide our work to a successful conclusion. I assure you of the full support of our delegation.
The United States places great value in CCW as a framework that brings together States with diverse national security interests; we all share the collective goal of balancing military necessity with real concern for the humanitarian consequences of certain conventional weapons.
An important pillar in the CCW is of course universalization. The United States places special emphasis on the need for CCW universalization. We encourage those states in regions particularly affected by the conventional arms regulated by CCW protocols, specifically Amended Protocol II and Protocol V, to accede to those protocols. The impact of greater universality underscores the central role of the CCW and enhances the CCW’s status as a body that brings states with diverse national security concerns together to gain insight into the humanitarian harm caused by certain conventional weapons, so that those harms can be addressed in meaningful and practical ways.
As High Contracting Parties, we must explore options to broaden and deepen not just acceptance of the Convention and all its protocols in the aim of universalization, but also the faithful national implementation of those legal obligations. The United States fully supports this aim and believes that such implementation provides a significant humanitarian benefit. We appreciate other delegations’ focus and participation in the experts meetings on implementation of Protocol V and Amended Protocol II, and welcome the decisions of the High Contracting Parties to those protocols to continue our work in the coming year.
Turning more specifically to the program of work for 2013, we seek one consistent with the fact that CCW remains both a relevant and viable forum to discuss issues related to the regulation of conventional arms in the future.
The United States is especially pleased that discussions with respect to IEDs will continue, consistent with the scope of Amended Protocol II, with a view to compiling best practices aimed to address the diversion or illicit use of materials while also providing a forum for a robust exchange of views and information among states. Although we are aware that some may not view the discussion of IEDs as the usual business of a meeting of High Contracting Parties as those discussions may not lead us to conclude a legally binding protocol, we believe that the CCW provides a unique forum for diverse States to engage on this issue. Although the CCW cannot completely address problems caused by IEDs, High Contracting Parties to Additional Protocol II can make a meaningful and lasting contribution to counter-IED activities. This kind of work – discussion among states with diverse national security interests – as well as elaboration and refinement of a range of possible outcomes — are emblematic of the kind of work the CCW should continue to pursue. This type of engagement and work is the truest evidence of this body’s continuing vibrancy and value.
One topic that should remain on our program of work for 2013 is mines other than anti-personnel land mines (MOTAPM). The United States continues to support conclusion of a legally binding MOTAPM Protocol. That said, we are acutely aware of various positions on this issue and that discussions should proceed cautiously. We believe that a great deal of value was added by the April 2012 meeting of experts and would encourage the MSP to consider continuing the open-ended experts meeting into 2013. Such a further meeting could be an opportunity to discuss both the humanitarian effects arising from use of MOTAPM as well as any military utility derived from their use.
The United States continues to support furthering, and building upon, the discussions that we have undertaken anew on MOTPAM. We listened closely during last April’s open-ended meeting of experts. We heard several experts, who were already convinced of the humanitarian need, speak of technological and other measures that could advance those humanitarian aims. But we also heard some in this room appropriately question some underlying assumptions. We also understand any delegation’s reticence to plow again the same ground, especially with an uncertain prospect that those efforts would yield a mutually acceptable result.
Although we will have the opportunity to discuss and agree upon a way forward on this issue over the next two days, and in those discussions will share more of our rationale, we will simply say at this point that we believe we have more that we need to hear from other delegations and their experts on MOTAPM, including with respect to whether there have been improvements in technology. In listening to one another, and focusing our discussion on some of its discrete elements, we stand the best chance of identifying those common elements that would serve our mutual concerns and aims. We therefore strongly support continued focused discussions on MOTAPM with the genuine hope and desire that this possibility remains distinct and quite attainable.
The United States was deeply disappointed by the failure of the Fourth Review Conference to conclude a protocol on cluster munitions. The protocol would have led to the immediate prohibition on many millions of cluster munitions, placed the remaining cluster munitions under a detailed set of restrictions and regulations; and subjected member states to additional obligations on issues such as clearance, transparency and destruction, all of which would have led to a substantial humanitarian impact on the ground.
On a national level, the United States continues to implement the DoD Policy on “Cluster Munitions and Unintended Harm to Civilians” signed by then Secretary of Defense Gates on June 19, 2008. The main element of that policy is that after 2018, the Military Departments and Combatant Commands will only employ cluster munitions containing submunitions that, after arming, do not result in more than 1 percent unexploded ordnance across the range of intended operational environments.
The United States supports the current program of work. We believe the Fourth Review Conference appropriately set the number and frequency of meetings for the work we have before us. That said, we understand and appreciate the concerns expressed by states at the meetings of the High Contracting Parties to the protocols earlier this week about the costs of our sessions. We support these efforts to ensure that our work proceeds as efficiently and cost effectively as possible.
The United States wishes to express our appreciation for the work the Implementation Support Unit has contributed to our efforts over the past year. We support their continued efforts.
In sum, the United States looks forward to continuing and refining the substantive, informative expert discussions of 2012 into a stronger, more focused CCW program of work in 2013. The IED discussions under Amended Protocol II and further discussion on MOTAPM, including identification of specific topics that warrant our collective consideration, would be of great benefit, simultaneously enhancing the vitality and effectiveness of the CCW as an institution.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.