Explanation of Vote – UNFC October 2023
Cluster 4 – Conventional Weapons
Statement Delivered by U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative to the Delegation to the Conference on Disarmament, Alison Storsve
We are pleased to support resolution L.41 “Through-life Conventional Ammunition Management.” The resolution adopts the final report of the Open-Ended Working Group on Ammunition, which includes the Global Framework for Through-life Conventional Ammunition Management. Among other things, the Global Framework recognizes the important role of international cooperation among States and other relevant stakeholders on through-life conventional ammunition management.
Cooperation in the oversight of commercial sales is an important tool to help mitigate post-transfer diversion risk for conventional ammunition, including through end-use monitoring based on end-user certificates and functionally equivalent documents established by national regulatory authorities, where an originating State has determined which end-user and end-use restrictions to apply to the sale. As the rationale for Objective 9 explains, end-user certification is based on the originating State’s risk assessment and determination of appropriate restrictions. It not limited to areas of joint concern with a receiving State or dependent on a receiving State’s assent.
Regarding resolution L.56 “Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems,” although we believe that aspects of the resolution could be further refined, the United States is pleased to support this resolution. We recognize the contribution a UN Secretary General’s report could make to the work of the CCW Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on emerging technologies in the area of lethal autonomous weapons systems, or LAWS. The report should be balanced and inclusive of the views of all UN member states and take a pragmatic perspective on opportunities for progress by consensus. We also welcome the opportunity for civil society to provide their views to the UN Secretary General.
The CCW is a uniquely appropriate forum for multilateral discussions on LAWS, because it benefits from contributions by diplomatic, military, legal, technical, and policy experts from all interested States, as well as civil society. This expertise has resulted in a significant body of work, including consensus on guiding principles, and the GGE continues to provide the best opportunity to advance international efforts on LAWS.
The United States does not support the creation of a parallel process on LAWS or any other efforts that would seek to undermine the centrality of the CCW GGE in making progress on the issue.
Over the last two years, more than 15 substantive proposals have been submitted by delegations to the GGE, ranging from legally binding instruments (LBI) to non-binding instruments to working papers. While the United States believes the time is not right to begin negotiating a legally binding instrument on LAWS, we have supported mandates that allow for the consideration of all proposals and have encouraged constructive engagement on all proposals. In our view, the Draft Articles on Autonomous Weapons Systems submitted to the CCW GGE in March of this year by the United States, along with Australia, Canada, Japan, Poland, the Republic of Korea, and the United Kingdom, remains the best vehicle for progress on the issue. This proposal focuses on clarifying how international humanitarian law (IHL) principles and rules apply with respect to autonomous weapons systems and on articulating measures to effectively implement IHL, work that must be done before an LBI could be responsibly negotiated.
We look forward to working with CCW High Contracting Parties at the annual meeting next month in Geneva to reach consensus on a strong mandate for the GGE in 2024 that will allow GGE participants to continue to make substantive progress.
Thank you, Chair