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Group of Governmental Experts Meeting: U.S. Opening Statement
April 1, 2011


Opening Statement for the United States Delegation by
Melanie Khanna, Legal Adviser,
US Mission to the U.N. and Other International Organizations in Geneva,

Head of Delegation

March 28, 2011

Thank you Mr. Chairman. I would like to begin by offering our thanks to you and all the Friends of the Chair for your continuing efforts to lead us toward consensus in these challenging negotiations. The United States remains committed to reaching an agreement on a legally binding protocol in the CCW to mitigate the humanitarian impact to civilian populations resulting from the use of cluster munitions. You of course have our full support as you lead us in this endeavor this week.

As my delegation has stated during earlier rounds of negotiations, we continue to believe that a CCW Protocol on Cluster Munitions that provides a substantial humanitarian impact on the ground is an essential and achievable goal. A CCW Protocol that imposes meaningful requirements on the countries that are the major users and producers of cluster munitions and who hold approximately 90% of the world’s stockpiles would be an important and undeniable step forward from a humanitarian viewpoint—with the effect of immediately prohibiting more than 2 million U.S. cluster munitions alone.

We are encouraged by the progress in our discussions, particularly our sense of the good cooperative spirit at our last session and general acknowledgement concerning the strengthening of the text, as well as continued acknowledgement that it will not be possible to reach consensus in the CCW on a text that replicates the Oslo ban. We note that your newest version of the text incorporates several changes that aim to further strengthen the humanitarian impact of the Protocol, including a newly proposed flat ban on all pre-1980 munitions, a new deadline for clearance of CM remants, and a requirement that states at all times use only munitions with the lowest possible unexploded ordnance rate, consistent with military requirements. We look forward to discussing these and other substantive changes in the text, which will obviously require close consideration and debate this week. We note that this draft also takes steps to make the entire protocol easier to understand, helpfully addressing concerns raised by some states at the last session that the earlier drafts were unduly ambiguous or complicated.

Our delegation is ready to work with you, the Friends of the Chair, and other interested delegations to resolve the outstanding issues before us. We believe that if delegations continue to work in the spirit of cooperation that prevailed during our last meeting in February, it will be possible to change the reality on the ground in a meaningful way to the benefit of civilian populations worldwide.