U.S. Statement on MOTAPM at the CCW Meeting of High Contracting Parties

U.S. Statement on MOTAPM
as delivered by
Katherine Baker

CCW Meeting of High Contracting Parties
Geneva, November 23, 2017

Thank you Mr. Chairman.  We also thank Afghanistan for the presentation on the challenges that the presence of MOTAPM has created.  I found the information about the challenges MOTAPM create for survey activities related to humanitarian demining particularly illuminating.  The United States believes that hearing High Contracting Parties’ experiences regarding issues related to the convention is vital to our work.

With respect to MOTAPM, U.S. policy and practice ensure that U.S. forces take feasible precautions to avoid and minimize incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, and damage to civilian objects in the use of MOTAPM, consistent with the Final Declaration of the High Contracting Parties to the CCW adopted at the Fifth CCW Review Conference in 2016.

MOTAPM can be a major humanitarian problem for two reasons.  First these mines are often persistent or long-lived, which means that they can remain lethal for decades after emplacement if they are not removed after they are no longer operationally required.  Second, these persistent mines can be a danger to civilians and humanitarian deminers, especially when such mines are not detectable by standard metal detectors that are used in demining.

Incidents continue to cause casualties and to block access to land and infrastructure, impeding the development–as illustrated in the presentation from our Afghan colleague,  and cutting off civilians from aid.  Reporting from our non-governmental organization partners indicates that most of the MOTAPM causing these incidents have low metal content and are difficult to detect.  A significant number of MOTAPM continue to be removed during U.S.-funded humanitarian mine action clearance operations, for example in Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia, and South Sudan.

That said, we fully appreciate that MOTAPM have military utility.  For example, MOTAPM can serve valuable defensive purposes, such as delaying or channelizing motorized enemy forces.  We acknowledge that other States see other military uses for MOTAPM.  As with the use of anti-personnel landmines, however, States should take feasible precautions to help reduce the risk to civilians.

We greatly appreciate the efforts of UNODA, UNMAS, and the Geneva International Center for Humanitarian Demining for organizing an informative informal consultation on anti-vehicle mines in August 2017 that explored both the humanitarian challenges and the military utility of MOTAPM.  We look forward to the report from this meeting.

Although MOTAPM incidents to do not dominate the news in the same way as incidents involving IEDs, incidents involving MOTAPM clearly deserve the CCW’s attention.  Additional reasonable measures could make a real and near-term difference in the protection of civilians.  We urge HCPs to commit to accepting and implementing measures to reduce unnecessary civilian harm caused by MOTAPM.

As we have maintained since the CCW suspended substantive work on this issue in 2006, the United States stands ready, if positions change and consensus appears possible, to restart discussions on the negotiation of a new protocol on MOTAPM.  In this regard, we support the Irish proposal to hold expert discussions on MOTAPM in 2018.

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