The 18th 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 Richard Visek
August 30, 2016
Thank you, Mr. 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. The United States encourages observer States here to take the necessary steps to become High Contracting Parties to Amended Protocol II, especially those that are parties to the original Protocol II. We fully recognize the humanitarian costs associated with the indiscriminate use of mines, booby traps, and other devices, in particular Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), and believe that the universalization of the Amended Protocol is a critical step in reducing these costs.
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 assisted with efforts to mitigate the harmful effects of conventional weapons. The Department of State, the Department of Defense, and the U.S. Agency for International Development work together with foreign partners, private companies, and non-governmental organizations to implement humanitarian mine action programs; reduce small arms, light weapons, and conventional stockpiles (including man-portable air defense systems); and improve physical security and stockpile management practices at conventional weapons storage sites.
Since 1993, the United States has provided more than $2.6 billion in aid to more than 90 countries for these conventional weapons destruction programs. In addition, the United States provides a wide range of assistance to combat the illicit trafficking of conventional weapons, such as helping States improve their export control practices and providing technical assistance for physical security of conventional weapons stockpiles. The United States has been and remains the world’s 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 explosive remnants of war.
Operation and Status of the Protocol
The United States continues its efforts to address the humanitarian issues posed by landmines both through our own policies and through our humanitarian assistance efforts in concert with international partners. This work has helped 16 countries around the world to become free of the impact of landmines and has helped to reduce the number of people killed or injured by landmines each year dramatically.
Mr. President, the United States would like to express its appreciation for the open, transparent, and extensive efforts of the co-coordinators on the declaration on IEDs and the mandate for future work. Their work will permit us to make a useful contribution to the 5th Review Conference and has outlined a way for us to continue our important work on IEDs. We can’t completely solve the IED problem within the CCW. But we can make progress through the CCW, which provides a unique forum for States to engage on this topic. We must take care, however, not to take actions within the CCW that are outside of its mandate. We also must take care not to duplicate parallel, preexisting efforts.
We have carefully reviewed the latest versions of the draft declaration and mandate that the coordinators circulated yesterday and we look forward to joining with other High Contracting Parties in finalizing both of these documents today.