79. b. Closing statement by Mr. Bettauer (Nov. 13, 2007)
Meeting of States Parties
Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons
Geneva, November 13, 2007
Closing Statement by Ronald J. Bettauer,
United States of America
Thank you, Mr. President.
I would like to join others in congratulating you on your efforts to guide our work at our meetings this week and last.
The United States believes that the humanitarian impact of cluster munitions is an important issue that should be addressed. We lent our full support to achieving agreement on a decision to initiate negotiations on this topic within the framework of the CCW next year. The language of the decision taken today is clear and direct; there can be no doubt that it represents agreement of all the states parties to the CCW, by consensus, to initiate negotiations on an urgent basis next year. The United States thinks the decision is a good one, and we are pleased with the result. It demonstrates that the states parties to the CCW can come to consensus on an urgent issue rapidly, and it means that an issue considered important by most states and their publics will be addressed in the appropriate framework.
States are responsible for protecting their citizens but under international humanitarian law the right to use force is not unlimited—humanitarian and military considerations are both important. Our decision affirms the importance of the CCW as a framework for balancing these considerations in the interest of mitigating the effects of weapons on civilian populations. The CCW is the only framework that brings together the users and producers of munitions and those concerned with their humanitarian impact, and that can achieve results that are meaningful and will result in real humanitarian progress.
There are significant differences among States Parties on what to include in a new instrument addressing the issue of cluster munitions. These differences will need to be worked out through the negotiating process. This work will be challenging, and the United States intends to participate actively and do everything possible to achieve a successful result. We hope that, if all countries approach the negotiations realistically and prepared to compromise, we will be able promptly to address the humanitarian concerns associated with the use of cluster munitions, while paying full heed to important military considerations. We welcome the decision to start the negotiations with an initial meeting of government experts in January and we believe that the process will be significantly enhanced by the support of military experts.
Mr. President, I would like to thank you for all of your efforts guiding this meeting of states parties, to thank all those who have served as coordinators and friends of the chair, and give my best wishes and thanks to all the members of the bureau who have done so much work to make these meetings a success.