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U.S. Opening Statement at the Meeting of the Parties of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons
November 24, 2017

U.S. Statement as delivered by Josh Dorosin

Meeting of State Parties – Opening Statement

Meeting of the Parties of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons

Geneva, November 22, 2017
Thank you Mr. Chairman,

Let me first extend our congratulations on your election as Chairperson of this Meeting of High Contracting Parties, and our appreciation for your work to organize and guide this Meeting.  We also greatly appreciate your commitment to address and remedy the financial situation that resulted in the cancellation of eight days of meetings this year.  You have the full support of our delegation, and we look forward to engaging on the important issues before us this week.

I also want to take this opportunity to congratulate and thank the Presidents of the Conferences of the High Contracting Parties to Amended Protocol II and Protocol V, Ambassador Soto and Ambassador Pung.  We are pleased with the work and the decisions taken on Monday and Tuesday during these Conferences.

The United States places great importance in the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons as an international humanitarian law (IHL) treaty 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.  The United States is a party to all five of the CCW Protocols and we fully support the full universalization and implementation of these important protocols.  We join in congratulating Afghanistan and Lebanon on their accessions to the convention.

Mr. Chairman, the United States will contribute actively in the discussions over the next three days, but allow me to briefly address four issues.

First, we would like to thank Ambassador Gill for his tremendous efforts in achieving a consensus recommendation for further work in 2018 by the Group of Governmental Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems.  We think the recommendations present a balanced and productive approach for discussions next year on issues related to emerging technologies in the area of LAWS. We urge High Contracting Parties to adopt the consensus recommendations of the GGE in this meeting.

Second, we continue to believe further discussion and work is appropriate in addressing the humanitarian concerns presented by mines other than anti-personnel mines (MOTAPM).  We thank Ireland for their leadership in this issue and add our voice in support of their proposal, and urge parties both to support this proposal and to commit to accepting and implementing additional measures to reduce unnecessary civilian harm caused by MOTAPM.

Third, Mr. Chairman, we would like to thank you for your efforts to consult with High Contracting Parties, as directed by the Review Conference, on the “emerging issues” agenda item.  While we supported including that agenda item, and recognize the desire of states to discuss EWIPA, we would like to reiterate our position that the CCW is not the proper forum for discussions about the use of explosive weapons during urban warfare.  We recognize and share the deep concern with addressing the humanitarian suffering caused by military operations in urban areas.  The United States is deeply committed to meeting its obligations under international humanitarian law in all military operations, and we condemn the utter disregard of international humanitarian law norms by ISIS in areas they they controlled in Iraq prior to the successful Iraqi operations mentioned by our distinguished Iraqi colleague, and in Syria.  But the purpose of the CCW is to address specific conventional weapons deemed to have indiscriminate effects or to be excessively injurious.  It is not a forum to regulate ordinary use of conventional weapons or to ensure general compliance with IHL.

Finally, we share the disappointment expressed by many other delegations regarding the cancellation of almost two weeks of meetings this year due to the financial situation of the CCW.   Mr. Chairman, we greatly appreciate your efforts to address this situation and support the proposed measures that you have outlined.   These measures are a good first step, but they cannot entirely resolve the underlying problem.  We thus urge all HCPs to pay their assessed contributions in a timely manner so that we have the funds available to carry out our important work.

Thank you again, Mr. Chairman