15 April 2008

CMC Statement To The CCW

A Statement by the Cluster Munition Coalition to the Group of Governmental Experts of the Convention on Certain Conventional WeaponsGeneva, Switzerland, 10 April 2008The Cluster Munition Coalition is grateful for the opportunity to address this forum on the critical issue of cluster munitions and I would like to thank those states that have expressed appreciation to NGOs for our contributions to addressing the humanitarian, development and human rights challenges posed by cluster munitions.As you know, the CMC has participated in every session of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons since our establishment in 2003. We consistently called for negotiations on cluster munitions and since 2007 we have been actively engaged in the Oslo Process to achieve an international prohibition on cluster munitions "that cause unacceptable harm to civilians."We are pleased that all but a small number of the states meeting in this room are also engaged in the Oslo Process and we commend all those states for their commitment to this urgent humanitarian concern. It is heartening to see that the majority of past and current stockpilers, producers and users of cluster munitions as well as the states affected by this problem are all committed to a ban and have steadfastly remained focused on that objective this week. We are also pleased that every state we have heard speaking this week has recognised that the specific problems caused by cluster munitions require a specific international response. As recently as two years ago that would have been almost unthinkable.It is clear that the progress towards an international ban has advanced substantially over the past 12 months with fruitful, highly detailed and often intense deliberations in Oslo, Lima, Vienna and Wellington in addition to regional and thematic meetings in Costa Rica, Belgrade, Brussels and Zambia.As many other delegations have noted we believe that there can be no doubt that an advancement of international law is justified and required and indeed this advancement is already well developed in the draft cluster munition convention circulated by New Zealand last February. The basis for such new law stems quite clearly from the specific harm these weapons have caused during and after attacks because of their area effect and their propensity to leave large amounts of unexploded ordnance.We understand that the need to sketch out the problematic effects and technical characteristics of cluster munitions has not been widely agreed upon here as an appropriate focus for the discussions but we would like to offer our comments in the interests of promoting mutual understanding amongst interested delegations.We have consistently said that in our efforts to understand the term "cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm" and in our efforts to define cluster munitions we should focus on the actual effects of these weapons when they have been used. We believe that a broad and simple definition of cluster munitions as contained in the draft convention recently circulated in Wellington is the right approach. We do not believe any cluster munitions, as defined, should be excepted or exempted from the prohibition. However, we recognise that certain weapons systems with submunitions may be excluded from the definition of cluster munitions and thus the prohibition, as has already been broadly agreed for smoke, flare and chaff submunitions for example.We agree with those delegations such as Argentina, Australia, Ireland, Germany and Norway who have also taken this approach, noting that any further exclusion from the definition of cluster munitions should be framed within strict parameters each of which would be required and each of which would be directly linked to the prevention of the harmful effects of cluster munitions during and after attacks. We also agree with Austria, Costa Rica, Mexico and Senegal that the most comprehensive prohibition possible is required in order to provide adequate protection to civilians and that the burden of proof rests with states to prove that any exclusion does not allow weapons that have the same effects as cluster munitions.We believe victim assistance is a critical focus of international work on cluster munitions and we look forward to consolidating in every possible way the obligation that states must promote the human rights of their citizens who may be injured by cluster munitions in the same way that states should provide assistance and human rights to all their citizens who have suffered similar trauma and upheaval in their personal lives, in their families and in their communities. This assistance should be framed in a measurable way in order to promote concrete results in the implementation phase. We believe the new cluster munition convention to be negotiated in Dublin will be an important step forward in this regard.Whatever the limitations of this body we believe that in the end if a small group of countries decides not to join other states in adopting a comprehensive cluster munition treaty it remains the case that any and all national, regional and multilateral actions to deal with the problem of cluster munitions will continue to stigmatise this unacceptable weapon. We have seen this before with anti-personnel landmines and we welcome all such measures. We would encourage all delegations to redouble your efforts on this matter; we are grateful for the open and constructive discussions we have had on a range of issues with many delegations over the course of this week and we look forward to continuing these contacts as we work together towards Dublin and beyond.