Australian Permanent Mission and Consulate-General
Geneva, Switzerland
Address: Chemin des Fins 2, Case Postale 102, 1211 Geneva 19 - Telephone: 022 799 9100 - Fax: 022 799 9178

Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons
Protocol V on Explosive Remnants of War
Fifth Conference of High Contracting Parties

Statement by HE Mr Peter Woolcott
Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations in Geneva
and Ambassador for Disarmament

9 November 2011

Mr President
 

Let me congratulate you again on your election as President of this Conference and offer you Australia’s full cooperation in your work.
 

Australia would like to thank the Coordinators on clearance, victim assistance, cooperation and assistance, generic preventative measures, national reporting and the web-based information system for their efforts this year.
 

Through these efforts, we continue to build towards the effective implementation of Protocol V on Explosive Remnants of War. The discussions at the Meeting of Experts held in April and the Coordinators’ reports demonstrate that this informal mechanism brings value through exchanges on experience and expertise in national efforts to implement the Protocol and to strengthen compliance.
 

Mr President
 

Australia is particularly pleased that Argentina, Brazil, Cameroon, Panama, Poland and St Vincent and the Grenadines have consented to be bound by the Protocol since the Fourth Conference. 76 States are now parties to the Protocol.
 

Australia welcomes the strong growth in membership of this Protocol over the past few years. However, much work remains to achieve its universalisation. Australia has been active this last year in promoting the Protocol to a number of States. We will continue to do what we can to encourage CCW States Parties to join the Protocol, particularly in our under-represented region of the Asia-Pacific.

Universal acceptance and effective implementation of Protocol V will assist in minimising post-conflict humanitarian problems.
 

Mr President
 

Protocol V represents a strong practical step forward in reducing the humanitarian effects and risks of all forms of explosive remnants of war (ERW).
 

For Australia’s part, the Government has fully implemented the Protocol. The Australian Defence Force revised its doctrine in relation to explosive ordnance to incorporate the provisions of Protocol V, including in all aspects of its operational planning and the targeting process.
 

Australia continues to work towards implementing the preventative measures in Part 3 of the Technical Annex to the Protocol. When procuring explosive ordnance, Australia has endeavoured to ensure measures are implemented and respected during the life cycle of the explosive ordnance.
 

Australia continues to maintain a robust ordnance management regime. Samples of our ordnance stocks inventory are inspected and tested regularly to ensure that they continue to meet the internationally accepted performance specifications. This activity is critical for improving the reliability of munitions, and therefore minimising the occurrence of ERW.
 

Mr President
 

Australia is equally committed to fulfilling its obligations under Protocol V in order to minimise the risks and effects of ERW. This includes those obligations in Article 8 of the Protocol on cooperation and assistance.
 

Australia’s commitment to action on ERW is longstanding and recognises the significant impact that unexploded ordnance has on communities often for years after hostilities have ceased. Australia’s $100 million Mine Action Strategy 2010-14 has assisted in reducing the humanitarian suffering and socio-economic impact of landmines, cluster munitions and other ERW.
 

We have delivered support for action on ERW to countries across the Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and Africa. This has included assistance over the past year to Cambodia, Chad, the DRC, Egypt, Ethiopia, Guinea Bissau, Iraq, Jordan, Laos, Lebanon, Libya, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Uganda, and Tajikistan.
 

Clearing land contaminated by explosive remnants of war is vital to removing the threat and social and economic impact to individuals and communities. Clearing ERW from affected areas allows individuals from local communities to farm land, travel to markets, attend schools and visit health clinics without the fear of injury or death. Each of these activities enables individuals to participate more fully in the development of their communities.
 

Victim assistance is a key component of our assistance. We support a number of centres in rehabilitating and reintegrating people with disabilities, including victims of ERW, into society. We also work in partnership with civil society to ensure that victims of unexploded ordnance understand and exercise their rights to achieve greater inclusion in social and economic activities.

Mr President

Protocol V provides the High Contracting Parties with a useful tool to help prevent the creation of ERW and address concerns arising from its existence in post-conflict situations.

Internationally we must all do more to eliminate the civilian suffering and effects of these munitions. Australia remains committed to working with others to achieve this goal.

Thank you.