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Fourth Conference of the High Contracting Parties to Protocol V on Explosive Remnants of War
November 22, 2010

Opening Statement for the United States Delegation by

Melanie Khanna, Head of Delegation

22 November 2010

Thank you, Mr. President, and warm congratulations on your assumption of the Presidency.  On behalf of the members of my delegation, we are pleased to be here as a party to the Convention and all its protocols, and we extend a warm welcome to the eight new parties to Protocol V. We thank you, Mr. President, for your work in preparation for this meeting, and we extend our thanks also to all of the coordinators who have produced valuable reports, which we look forward to discussing this week.

The United States remains deeply concerned by the risks posed by Explosive Remnants of War (ERW), and we are pleased to be a world leader in Humanitarian Mine Action (HMA)-related assistance. For many years our HMA assistance programs have addressed both ERW and landmines. More recently we have expanded our assistance to include the destruction and stockpile security of excess and at-risk stockpiles of small arms and light weapons and conventional munitions. Since 1993, the United States has provided more than $1.8 billion for these Conventional Weapons Destruction Programs in over 80 countries. In 2010 specifically, the Department of State provided $160 million in assistance to 31 countries, and we continue to work bilaterally and multilaterally to reduce the threat to civilians. An important element of our assistance is the Quick Reaction Force, which is a deployable team of conventional weapons destruction experts that works in concert with U.S. Embassies and host nations to respond to critical risks posed by ERW. The United States also provides substantial survivors’ assistance around the world. All U.S. assistance in these important areas is need based; it is not predicated on the type of munition or its origin.

Although we have seen real progress in combating the threat of mines and ERW, conflicts do persist, threatening peace and stability around the world. Recognizing that governments and international organizations cannot do it all, the United States, through the Department of State, continues to expand our public-private partnership program. Our almost 60 partner organizations raise awareness and resources for mine action. These organizations educate civilians on the risks of ERW and assist ERW and landmine survivors with rehabilitation and reintegration into society, as well as with removing and destroying landmines and ERW.

The United States takes seriously Protocol V’s guidance on generic preventive measures to limit the creation of ERW. The U.S. Department of Defense carries out a robust Physical Security and Stockpile Management program for all U.S. munitions that include regular surveillance to ensure that weapons are performing effectively. Through the Defense Threat Reduction Agency and the Department of State, we offer technical advice, training, and in some cases technical assistance to help states improve their stockpile management.

On the national level, in order to further reduce the threat of ERW, in June 2008 Secretary of Defense Robert Gates adopted a new cluster munitions policy. The main feature of this policy is that, by 2018, the U.S. armed forces will not use cluster munitions that, after arming, result in more than 1 percent of unexploded ordnance across the range of intended operational conditions. Implementation of this policy will substantially address the humanitarian concerns associated with the reliability rates of cluster munitions. This policy will affect over 95 percent of current U.S. stockpiles.

Mr. President, there are currently 69 States Parties to Protocol V. There are, however, over 110 States Parties to the Convention and we urge those States not yet a Party to Protocol V to consider ratifying or acceding to it in the near future. The United States recognizes the importance of the universalization of this Protocol and supports ongoing efforts towards achievement of just that.

Thank you, Mr. President.