Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons: Protocol V on Explosive Remnants of War
Annual Conference on High Contracting Parties
November 19, 2018
as delivered by Katherine Baker
Thank you, Madam Vice President. The U.S. Delegation appreciates Iraq’s efforts to focus our discussions this year on the clearance of explosive remnants of war, or ERW. The United States has long supported efforts to clear ERW in Iraq, and we are proud of the cooperative partnership that we have developed with the government of Iraq in addressing the danger of ERW.
Protecting civilians is a prerequisite for achieving any kind of lasting peace and stability. Whether they are children going to school, businesspeople carrying out commerce, farmers cultivating their fields, or shepherds tending their flocks, civilians must be protected from the risk of landmines and unexploded ordnance. As long as these dangers persist, it is difficult for communities to recover from conflict. And when communities do not recover from a humanitarian crisis, they continue to remain susceptible to instability. This is why the United States works with countries around the world that, like Iraq, need to clear ERW in order to ensure the safety of their civilian population.
U.S. ERW assistance is part of a broader Conventional Weapons Destruction program, which is meant to enhance civilian security. Not only does it encompass humanitarian demining and clearance of ERW, but it also works to reduce the threats associated with stockpiles of at-risk small arms, light weapons, and conventional ammunition. In 2017, the U.S. Government had programs in more than 47 countries and since 1993 has provided more than 3.2 billion dollars in assistance to more than 100 countries.
Overall, U.S. Conventional Weapons Destruction assistance is not taking place in a vacuum. It is related to key foreign policy priorities and plays a direct role in keeping U.S. citizens and those of our allies and partners safe, while clearing the way for a stable, secure, and prosperous future in countries that are key to long-term security interests.
Related to Protocol V, the broad U.S. Conventional Weapons Destruction approach provides the U.S. Government flexibility to assist States with munitions management, which is key to the generic preventative measures aimed at minimizing the occurrence of ERW that High Contracting Parties are encouraged to take. Around the world, stockpiles of excess, poorly secured or otherwise at-risk conventional weapons remain a serious challenge to peace and prosperity. Degrading or mishandled stockpiles may explode, devastating nearby population centers. U.S. assistance with munitions management is an important part of reducing the risk of munitions potentially becoming ERW and helps protect civilians, much like U.S. assistance to clear ERW hazards that might otherwise kill or maim civilians long after conflicts have ended.