Australian Permanent Mission and Consulate-General
Switzerland, Liechtenstein

statement 154

Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons

Meeting of High Contracting Parties

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

25 November 2010


Mr President, the Australian delegation congratulates you on your appointment and assures you of our full cooperation as you guide this meeting to a successful conclusion.

Australia has had a long-standing commitment to the CCW and its humanitarian aims. We are a party to all five protocols as well as the amendments to the Convention and Protocol II.

As the CCW enters its 28th year since entry into force, States Parties to the CCW need to ensure the Convention is able to prohibit or restrict the use of those weapons which are excessively injurious or have indiscriminate effects. The CCW needs to remain responsive to, and lead developments in, international humanitarian law. We should also take advantage, as far as possible, of synergies between the CCW and other instruments which have similar obligations.

Mr President

Since the last Meeting of States Parties, Antigua and Barbuda, the Dominican Republic and Qatar have acceded to the Convention and accepted a number of its protocols. Australia is pleased to welcome them to the CCW. It is also pleasing to see that 99 States have accepted Protocol IV on blinding laser weapons and 74 States have accepted the amendment to Article 1 of the Convention.

Australia urges those States not yet Party to the CCW to consider ratifying or acceding to it in the near future. We also encourage those States Parties that have not yet accepted all of the Convention’s Protocols to do so, for it is the Protocols that provide the substance to the Convention’s aspirations.

While we recognise the significant achievement in having 113 States Parties to the Convention, there is still considerable scope for greater universalisation.

As part of our outreach on arms control and disarmament issues, Australia has taken opportunities to promote the CCW and its Protocols, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region.

We take our commitment to international cooperation and assistance seriously. It helps to enable States Parties to implement their obligations under the Convention and its protocols. Australia has, and will continue to, make a significant contribution in this regard.

Australia also continues to be a key financial contributor to the sponsorship fund. The fund is a valuable tool to promote the goals of the CCW, enhance its universalisation and assist its effective implementation.

Mr President

Since our last meeting, international concern about cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm to civilians led directly to a significant achievement in August 2010 – the entry into force of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. We have also just returned last week from a very successful first Meeting of States Parties to that Convention, held in Vientiane, Laos.

While Australia is a strong supporter of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, we accept the fact that some states, including major producers, are not yet in a position to join.

We continue to support efforts in the CCW – an instrument with broad membership and a high level of technical expertise – to achieve meaningful prohibitions on the use of cluster munitions by those who are not yet parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

If the CCW is “to address urgently the humanitarian impact of cluster munitions”, as the mandate of the GGE has stated, it must provide for a strong humanitarian outcome and progress the development of international humanitarian law. The minimum elements that we consider a CCW Protocol on cluster munitions should include are:

* meaningful prohibitions with some immediate effects; 
* the shortest possible transition periods; 
* stockpile destruction and clearance obligations; 
* a ban on transfers; and
* definitional consistency with the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

We do not underestimate the difficulties involved, but we are prepared to work with others to achieve this outcome. However, this negotiation has occupied us for a number of years and cannot continue indefinitely. The fourth Review Conference will be a natural time to conclude these negotiations.

Mr President

Australia supports efforts to strengthen the CCW. One area outstanding from the Convention’s coverage is mines other than anti-personnel mines (MOTAPM).

It is clear that undetectable and persistent MOTAPM pose humanitarian risks. This risk could be countered effectively through the conclusion of a protocol governing the use of such weapons.

Australia is pleased to recall its support for the declaration on anti-vehicle mines issued by 23 states at the conclusion of the Third Review Conference. We would encourage others to consider affirming their support for this declaration as a practical means of addressing the humanitarian concerns of MOTAPM.