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
Amended Protocol II on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Mines, Booby Traps and Other Devices
Thirteenth Annual Conference of High Contracting Parties
Statement by Mr Philip Kimpton
First Secretary, Australian Permanent Mission

11 November 2011

Mr President, let me congratulate you on your election and assure you of Australia’s full cooperation in your work.

We also convey our appreciation to the two Coordinators for their work in enhancing the implementation and understanding of Amended Protocol II.

Many of Amended Protocol II’s obligations have been superseded by the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, to which the large majority of States are parties and which Australia strongly supports.

However, it is worth noting that Amended Protocol II marked an advance in addressing humanitarian concerns relating to anti-personnel landmines. Its prohibition of booby-traps, restrictions on anti-personnel landmines and requirements on marking and fencing represented important developments in international humanitarian law. They reduced the potential for civilian harm by anti-personnel landmines. The adherence of key mine-using and producing states to Amended Protocol II has helped to broaden the scope of these gains.

Mr President

Australia welcomes St Vincent and the Grenadines and Serbia as new State Parties since the last Annual Conference, bringing the total number of States Parties to Amended Protocol II to 97.

Australia has continued to implement its obligations under Amended Protocol II and of course as a State Party to the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention.

Australia’s contribution to mine action is also set out in our national report. As a mine action donor, we support a number of clearance, victim assistance and mine risk education projects, primarily in the Asia-Pacific region.

Mr President

Australia has supported efforts since 2008 to revitalize and re-energise our work under Amended Protocol II.

We welcomed the opportunity to discuss how to tackle problems associated with improvised explosive devices (IEDs) during the Group of Experts meeting in April. We would like to thank the Coordinator, Reto Wollenmann of Switzerland, for his constructive contributions to this debate over the past three years.

IEDs are a threat to military forces and the broader civilian population in those countries where these weapons are indiscriminately deployed. We were shocked by the reported deaths of 150 people in northern Nigeria last weekend and condemn these attacks. Through terrorist bombings in Bali and Jakarta and in our operations in Afghanistan, Australia, like many other countries represented here, has been affected by IEDs. Many of our fatalities and battle casualties in theatres of operation are from IEDs.

While it is an unfortunate consequence for military personnel that they may be attacked in war, this should not be the case for civilians. In Afghanistan, as in Iraq, it is civilians – women, children and men – who bear the brunt of insurgent IED attacks. Since 2009, NATO figures show that the large majority of over 300 civilian casualties a month result from insurgent attacks using IEDs

Like others, we are investing in the development of effective countermeasures to these weapons and their deployment.

In Australia, as elsewhere, there is a great deal of work being conducted by military and police forces to defeat the IED threat and to protect military and civilian personnel from their effects. Better armoured vehicles, personal body army and improved detection equipment only solve a part of the broader problem.

Controls are needed to limit access by non-state actors to military munitions, explosive remnants of war, and precursor explosive materials such as the agricultural fertiliser ammonium nitrate. The first two could be achieved by States enhancing their stockpile security, tightening export controls and promoting universal acceptance of Protocol V to the CCW. For the latter, recognising that Amended Protocol II has only limited applicability to restrict the availability of commercial precursors, we should continue to consider alternative methods to limit access to precursors by non-state actors.

In defeating the IED threat, it is accepted doctrine that all elements of the IED network must be attacked – the parts suppliers, the manufacturers, the financiers, the planners, the facilitators and emplacers. While our scientists will work on better detection and protection, for our part, we must consider overlaps with other international instruments, and explore options in other inter-related instruments and fora, including in countering organised crime and tracking the movement of illicit funds.

Mr President

Today is Remembrance Day, being 93 years since the end of World War I. It is a special day because it offers an opportunity to reflect solemnly on the many tragedies of war and the devastation it causes to individuals’ lives, their communities and nations. International humanitarian law reminds us that the means and methods of warfare are not unlimited. The CCW and Amended Protocol II are part of that corpus of law, seeking to raise standards of permissible conduct during conflicts. We will continue to support strengthening their role in establishing, maintaining and reinforcing international norms and also promoting their universality.

Thank you.