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 You are in: Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security > Bureau of Political-Military Affairs > Bureau of Political-Military Affairs Releases > Bureau of Political-Military Affairs Remarks > Bureau of Political-Military Affairs Remarks (2006)

Third Review Conference of the Convention on Conventional Weapons

Ronald Bettauer, Deputy Legal Advisor, U.S. Department of State, U.S. Head of Delegation
U.S. Mission to the United Nations in Geneva
Geneva, Switzerland
November 6, 2006

Tomorrow we start the Review Conference for the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons or CCW. This Convention has separate protocols that contain restrictions on specified conventional weapons in the interest of protecting the civilian population from weapons that may cause unnecessary suffering or have indiscriminate effects. The United States has been a leader in negotiating this convention, which was adopted in 1980, and in proposing and negotiating the five annexed protocols.

At the Review Conference, we believe the time is ripe, the time is right, to adopt a new protocol on anti-vehicle landmines. The Ottawa Convention doesn’t cover anti-vehicle landmines at all. The CCW anti-personnel landmine protocol, to which the United States is a party, has a general provision that calls for states parties, to the extent feasible, to ensure that remotely-delivered mines, including anti-vehicle mines, have effective self-destruct, self-neutralization and self-deactivation features. We can do better than that.

In post-conflict situations, anti-vehicle landmines destroy civilian vehicles and impede relief operations. Thus, in 2001 the United States proposed a new protocol that would legally require that most anti-vehicle landmines contain effective self-destruction or self-neutralization mechanisms, with a back-up self deactivation feature. We also proposed a transfer ban on mines that do not meet these standards. We have pressed this vigorously during five years of negotiation. Last November, we thought this protocol would be adopted, and most other countries agreed, but five countries blocked consensus. We agreed to try again for another year, and have worked hard during weeks of negotiations this year and in many bilateral side meetings to develop compromise solutions. We will continue to work hard this week and next to try to overcome the few remaining objections and achieve agreement on a consensus protocol. The time is right for this humanitarian initiative to succeed.

I also want to take a minute on explosive remnants of war and cluster munitions, on which there has been a lot of focus recently. I want to say how pleased the United States is that the fifth protocol to the CCW on explosive remnants of war will enter into force on November 12, during this conference. This protocol covers all types of munitions – including cluster munitions. It calls for post-conflict remediation – cleanup of explosive remnants, marking, and education of civilians – and its technical annex calls for increased reliability in the manufacture of such munitions. We think this, as a complement to the existing law of armed conflict, which addresses issues such as targeting and proportionality, will provide major benefits. President Bush sent this protocol to the U.S. Senate in June with a recommendation that it grant advice and consent to ratification.



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