CCW
The CCW Group of Governmental Experts meets at the UN in Geneva. Photo credit: UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferre

(Geneva, 21 February 2011) - The Cluster Munition Coalition today called on the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) to put an end to its decade of fruitless discussion on cluster munitions by the end of this year. The CCW has proven it is not capable of adequately addressing this issue while, in stark contrast, the Convention on Cluster Munitions has entered into force and is already making clear progress to address the deadly impact of cluster munitions.

Below is the full text of the opening remarks as delivered by CMC Campaign Manager Laura Cheeseman:
Cluster Munition Coalition Opening Statement to the CCW Group of Governmental Experts

Delivered by Laura Cheeseman, Campaign Manager, Cluster Munition Coalition
Monday 21 February 2011, Geneva, Switzerland

Thank you Mr. Chairperson.

We are at the beginning of a new year, an important year for the CCW as it prepares for its fourth Review Conference. This should be an opportunity for states to take stock of the work they have done in the CCW over the past years.

The Cluster Munition Coalition firmly believes that the CCW should put an end to its discussions on cluster munitions by the end of this year. The issue of cluster munitions has been on the agenda of the CCW for over 10 years, but despite the considerable amount of time and money spent, the CCW is still a great distance away from producing a protocol on cluster munitions – let alone a meaningful protocol that would address the humanitarian impact with the scope and urgency with which it ought to be dealt. The CCW has proven it is not capable of adequately addressing this issue.

In stark contrast, the past 5 years have also seen the Oslo Process deliver on its work of achieving a comprehensive ban on cluster munitions. The spirit of cooperation and determination has characterized the process and most importantly preventing the human suffering caused by these weapons has been at the forefront of its work. The Convention entered into force remarkably quickly and we are already seeing it have an impact on the ground. To date, 108 countries have joined the Convention on Cluster Munitions and 51 countries are States Parties.

The draft protocol currently on the table for discussion at the CCW does not provide an urgent response to the problem and it is not compatible with the CCM. It seeks only to prohibit cluster munitions produced before 1980. Not only will most of these weapons be past their expiry date and in need of being withdrawn from service but a protocol so narrow in scope will not provide a solution to the problems caused by cluster munitions. Two thirds of CCW states have signed or ratified CCM. These states have a legal obligation to promote the norms established by the Convention on Cluster Munitions. It will be very difficult for a protocol that directly conflicts with the standard of the Convention on Cluster Munitions to emerge from such a group of states.

States that wish to deal with the deadly impact of cluster munitions should join the Convention on Cluster Munitions. This Convention sets the standard to which all states will be held with regards to their policy and practice on cluster munitions. Those not yet in a position to join the Convention should adopt national measures to stop the use, production and transfer of cluster munitions with the aim of joining as soon as possible.

Throughout this year, the Cluster Munition Coalition will work to ensure that the ambitious and action-oriented Vientiane Action Plan is implemented by States Parties to the CCM and that real progress is made this year in assisting those people and communities affected by these weapons.  Thank you Mr. Chairperson.

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