November 25, 2010
Opening Statement for the United States Delegation
US Mission to the U.N. and Other International Organizations,
Head of Delegation
Thank you Mr. President. I would like to start by congratulating you on your selection as President of the Meeting of the States Party to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. We are confident that you will lead us to a very conclusion of an important year, and I want to assure you that you have our full support and we are at your disposal.
During the course of this week, we have already had productive discussions on this year’s work regarding the Protocol V on Explosive Remnants of War and Amended Protocol II on Landmines. This year, we have also engaged in serious negotiations of a Protocol on Cluster Munitions.
The United States remains fully committed to reaching an agreement on a legally binding protocol on Cluster Munitions in the CCW to mitigate the humanitarian impact to civilian populations resulting from their use. We have made important progress during this past year, and are now much closer to reaching a successful outcome to our admittedly difficult negotiations. Under the guidance of the Chairperson of the GGE, Gary Domingo, and the very able Friends of the Chair, we have a draft text before us that balances military utility and humanitarian objectives, and that would – if subscribed to by major users and producers of cluster munitions – immediately upon entry into force prohibit the use and transfer of a very large proportion of the world’s cluster munitions – a much larger proportion, in fact, than are currently covered by the Oslo Convention.
We recognize, especially with the Convention on Cluster Munitions’ recent entry into force, that some delegations and NGOs may view these negotiations as being unnecessary. We strongly disagree. A CCW Protocol that imposes meaningful requirements on approximately 90% of the world’s stockpiles would be an important step forward from a humanitarian standpoint.
The current Chairman’s text incorporates an immediate ban on a specific group of cluster munitions, namely those that have been produced before 1980 that do not incorporate any safeguards. This ban would include a large portion of those weapons that have been cited as being the most likely to have unacceptable humanitarian effects. For the United States, accepting a protocol with this provision would require us to permanently set aside from use, and to ultimately destroy, approximately 50 % of our cluster munitions stocks. Other provisions of the Protocol that become effective after optional deferral periods would cover an even higher percentage of the U.S. arsenal.
I am not suggesting that the current text constitutes our final document. There are still difficult discussions ahead. But we now have a text that genuinely reflects some of the persistent concerns of both sides, and provides an immediate and significant humanitarian impact. The standards incorporated in the current text would be subject to evolution over time by agreement. The current text also includes exemptions deemed critical by various states – some by Oslo states and some by major users and producers.
We have truly reached an important juncture. We have the possibility of agreement within our grasp. Both sides have been presented with a draft which may be difficult for them to accept. For the Oslo States who want to see a complete ban on most types of cluster munitions (namely those defined as cluster munitions in the CCM), this agreement will not fully satisfy. For the major “users and producers,” many provisions in the current draft are very far reaching indeed. We must move ahead deliberately, taking into account each other’s genuine efforts and concerns.
We are convinced that an agreement is possible in the next year. With continued cooperation and political will, these negotiations can come to a conclusion that will change the reality on the ground in a meaningful way. I urge all states here to support continuation next year of our negotiating mandate, updated to include reference to the Chair’s most recent text. Proposals to alter the substance of our mandate are likely to meet with counterproposals and bog us down. I would therefore strongly encourage us all to avoid prolonged debate about changing the substance of our mandate in favor of an approach that will carry us forward efficiently and cooperatively.
Thank you, Mr. President.