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U.S. Statement at First Round of Negotiations for a Protocol on Cluster Munitions in the CCW
February 23, 2011

February 21, 2011

Melanie Khanna
Legal Adviser

United States Mission to the United Nations
Geneva, Switzerland

Opening Statement by the United States Delegation at the First Round of Negotiations in 2011 for a Protocol to the CCW to Combat Negative Humanitarian Effect of Cluster Munitions

As Prepared for Delivery

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and congratulations on your Chairmanship of our work this year. On behalf of the members of my delegation, we are extremely pleased to be here today to carry out the mandate of the GGE as agreed by CCW States Parties last November. As you have reminded us, that mandated calls on the GGE to “continue its negotiations informed by the Chair’s Text on a draft protocol on cluster munitions, and taking into account other past, present, and future proposals” to address urgently the humanitarian impact of cluster munitions, “while striking a balance between military and humanitarian considerations.”

Mr. Chairman, let me confirm today that the United States remains committed to negotiate a legally binding Protocol on Cluster Munitions in the CCW to mitigate the threat to civilian populations resulting from the use of cluster munitions, and you have our full support. We realize many governments represented here are parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM). However, many other States, including the United States, have determined that their national security interests cannot be fully ensured consistent with the terms of the CCM. A comprehensive international response to the humanitarian concerns associated with cluster munitions must include action by those States that are not in a position to become parties to the CCM because those States produce and stockpile the vast majority of the world’s cluster munitions. The US stockpile alone is more than 5 million cluster munitions with over 700 million sub-munitions. The United States believes that it should be possible to reach agreement in the CCW on a protocol on cluster munitions that will have significant humanitarian benefits. The U.S. Delegation is committed to working cooperatively with delegations across the spectrum of views represented here to achieve this positive result.

We know that negotiations on a cluster munitions protocol in the CCW will continue to be difficult, and we realize that strong differences remain. Nevertheless, we believe that it is worth devoting a significant effort to achieve a successful result. A CCW protocol that imposes meaningful requirements on the countries that hold 85-90% of the world’s stockpiles of cluster munitions would be an important step forward from a humanitarian standpoint.

On behalf of the United States, let me reaffirm that we have come prepared to listen to all reasonable proposals and comments regarding the existing text. Having said that, we believe that the Chair’s existing text reflects much valuable work and that it represents a sound and – as the Brazilian Ambassador has said – “realistic” basis for discussions that have the potential to lead to a consensus outcome here – and that, Mr. Chairman remains our goal.

To that end, we hope to make a short presentation at some point this week, whenever you decide appropriate, that we hope will help illustrate the real significance of the Chair’s current draft, including pre-1980 date, and address some of the assertions just made by Norway about these weapons.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.