U.S. Opening Statement at the Fifth Review Conference of the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW)

Fifth Review Conference of the High Contracting Parties 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
Geneva, December 12, 2016

 Thank you, Madame President.

The United States places great value in the Conference of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) as an international humanitarian law (IHL) treaty framework that brings together States with diverse security interests to discuss issues related to weapons that may be deemed to be excessively injurious or to have indiscriminate effects.  We believe that the CCW provides a unique forum for discussing these important issues as it has an appropriate mix of technical, policy, political, and military experts.

We would like to commend the excellent efforts of the various coordinators of the work related to Amended Protocol II and Protocol V.  We are pleased with the decisions of the High Contracting Parties to Amended Protocol II and Protocol V, and we look forward to adopting these decisions during this Review Conference.

The United States recognizes the need for universalization and full implementation of the CCW and its protocols.  We welcome those States that have become party to the CCW and its protocols since the last Review Conference.

The importance of universalization and implementation has been reinforced by recent events.  We have seen concerning reports that incendiary weapons continue to be used in places where civilians have been present, as well as increased reports of indiscriminate use of IEDs and landmines in places like Syria, Libya, Ukraine, and Yemen.  These disturbing reports underscore that the universalization and implementation of the CCW and its protocols, are crucial if we want to help preclude such conduct from occurring in the future.  We call on all High Contracting Parties that are parties to those conflicts to abide by their obligations under the CCW and we call on those States not yet party to the CCW and its protocols to become parties at the earliest opportunity.

The United States has supported the decision by the High Contracting Parties to discuss lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS).  We continue to believe that the CCW is the right forum to consider this complex topic.  This subject requires in-depth discussions and we continue to encourage States to participate actively in this process.  In 2017, we should continue to seek a better understanding of the potential issues associated with LAWS, consistent with the recommendations of the Informal Meeting of Experts in April.

The United States supports concluding a legally binding protocol on mines other than anti-personnel mines (MOTAPM).  That said, we see value in building on the constructive discussions that we have had, both formally and informally, in recent years.  We strongly encourage High Contracting Parties to agree to the proposal put forth by Ireland to resume our work on this issue.  MOTAPM, unlike LAWS, are existing weapons that continue to be used indiscriminately and that therefore pose a clear danger to civilians in conflict areas.

Madame President, with respect to our work in 2017, the United States supports an efficient work plan that that is still sufficient to ensure that we are able to implement the decisions we take related to future work.  Noting the unfortunate constraints placed on this Review Conference due to insufficient funds, we must prioritize our work given our limited resources.

In conclusion, Madame President, the United States looks forward to participating in this 5th Review Conference. Thank you, Madam President.

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