U.S. Opening Statement at the Conference of the High Contracting Parties to Amended Protocol II to the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on t

The 16th Conference of the High Contracting Parties to Amended Protocol II (Protocol on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Mines, Booby-Traps, and other Devices) 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
As Delivered by Michael W. Meier

Geneva,
November 12, 2014

Thank you, Madam President.  I would like to congratulate you on your assumption of the Presidency of this Conference and assure you of the full support of our delegation.  I would like to take this opportunity in congratulating Iraq on its accession to Amended Protocol II.  We encourage other observer states here to take the necessary steps to become States Parties to Amended Protocol II, especially those that are parties to the original Protocol II.  We fully recognize the humanitarian threat associated with the indiscriminate and irresponsible use of mines, booby traps, and other devices, in particular Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).

Commitment to Address Humanitarian Concerns

The United States continues to demonstrate its commitment to address the humanitarian consequences that can be caused by landmines and other conventional weapons.  For more than two decades the United States has committed to a multi-agency effort to mitigate the harmful effects of conventional weapons, including landmines, explosive remnants of war, Man-Portable Air-Defense Systems (MANPADS) and excess small arms and light weapons and ammunition.  The Department of State is joined in this multi-agency effort by the Department of Defense, and the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Leahy War Victims Fund.  In addition, numerous private sector partners contribute to the success of the U.S. Conventional Weapons Destruction program.

Since 1993, the United States has provided more than $2.3 billion in aid to over 90 countries for conventional weapons destruction programs, including clearance of landmines and unexploded munitions and destruction of excess small arms and light weapons and munitions.  In addition to supporting the above-mentioned programs, the United States provides a wide variety of assistance to combat the illicit trafficking of conventional weapons, helping states improve their export control practices and providing technical assistance for physical security and stockpile management of at-risk conventional arms and munitions.  The United States has been and remains the world’s single largest financial supporter of humanitarian mine action, which includes not only clearance of landmines, but also medical rehabilitation and vocational training for those injured by landmines and other explosive remnants of war.

The United States is very proud of the assistance we have provided over the years.  Our Conventional Weapons Destruction program is an important investment that is saving lives and fostering stability in every region of the world.  The program helps countries recover from conflict and create safe, secure environments to rebuild infrastructure, return displaced citizens to their homes and livelihoods, help those injured by these weapons to recover and provide for their families, and promote peace and security by helping establish conditions conducive to stability, democracy and economic development.

Operation and Status of the Protocol 

Landmines

As many of you are aware, in the past year the United States has announced several important changes to our policy with respect to anti-personnel landmines (APL).  At the Third Review Conference of States Parties to the Ottawa Convention in Maputo, Mozambique in June, the United States announced that it will not produce or otherwise acquire any anti-personnel munitions that are not compliant with the Ottawa Convention in the future, including to replace such munitions as they expire in the coming years.  In September, we further announced that we are aligning our APL policy outside the Korean Peninsula with the key requirements of the Ottawa Convention.   This means that United States will:

  • not use APL outside the Korean Peninsula;
  • not assist, encourage, or induce anyone outside the Korean Peninsula to engage in activity prohibited by the Ottawa Convention; and
  • undertake to destroy APL stockpiles not required for the defense of the Republic of Korea.

Although we are not currently changing our landmine policy with respect to the Korean Peninsula, where are our actions are governed by the unique circumstances there, we will continue to work to find ways that would allow us to ultimately comply fully and accede to the Ottawa Convention while ensuring our ability to respond to contingencies on the Korean Peninsula.

As we continue our diligent efforts to pursue solutions that would be compliant with the Ottawa Convention, the U.S. remains committed to implementing APII.  To that end:

  • The United States maintains no minefields anywhere in the world;
  • As of January 1, 2011, the United States ended the use of all persistent mines, which can remain active for years after the end of a conflict, and has since removed all such mines, both APL and MOTAPM, from its active inventory.  Those mines remaining in the active inventory have a highly reliable self-destruct mechanism with a self-deactivation back-up with field-selectable self-destruct settings of 4 hours, 48 hours and 15 days;
  • As of 2009, the United States has removed and destroyed all non-detectable mines from our active inventory, except for a small quantity reserved for testing and training purposes.  All of our mines are detectable with commonly available mine detection equipment.
  • To date, the United States has destroyed over 2M of 2.6M persistent anti-vehicle and anti-personnel mines.  The remaining mines, other than a small quantity for countermine/demining testing and training purposes, will be destroyed through our conventional ammunition demilitarization process.

Overall, the United States is comprehensively addressing the humanitarian issues posed by landmines both through our own policies and through our humanitarian assistance efforts in concert with international partners, which have helped 15 countries around the world to become free of the impact of landmines and have helped to dramatically reduce the number of people killed or injured by landmines each year.

IEDs

Madam President, the United States will provide additional comments with respect to IEDs at the appropriate time, but the discussions over the past couple of years demonstrate that the CCW does have a constructive role in exploring the various lines of communication between States.  We look forward to hearing more about the recommendations from the IED coordinator with respect to best practices to help improve information sharing on international transfers and prevent the diversion of materials and explosives that can be used to create IEDs.  We commend the effort to compile existing guidelines and best practices in this area by the ISU.  While we can’t solve the IED problem within the CCW, it does provide a unique forum for diverse States to engage on this issue.  We would once again reiterate our concern that we need to take care not to duplicate parallel, preexisting efforts.

Thank you.