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Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons
Amended Protocol II on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Mines, Booby Traps and Other Devices
General Exchange of Views
Statement by Australia
14 November 2012
Madam President, let me congratulate you on your appointment and assure you of Australia’s full cooperation in your work.
Australia notes that many of Amended Protocol II’s obligations have been superseded by the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, to which the large majority of States are parties and which Australia strongly supports.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, Australia recognises that Amended Protocol II still continues to advance humanitarian concerns relating to anti-personnel landmines internationally. Its prohibition of booby-traps, restrictions on anti-personnel landmines and provisions on marking and fencing represented important developments in international humanitarian law (IHL) which assist markedly in reducing 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.
Australia welcomes Montenegro as a new State Party since the last Annual Conference, bringing the total number of States Parties to Amended Protocol II to 98.
We support all of the recommendations made by the Coordinator on the operation and status of this Protocol. Australia also suggests that the CCW Implementation Supporting Unit and the UN work together to urge and encourage states not party to the CCW to ratify or accede to the Amended Protocol II.
Australia has continued to implement its obligations under Amended Protocol II, as well as the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, which Australia views both as complementing and co-existing together into the future, to the benefit of civilians.
Australia’s contribution to mine action is also set-out in our national report and Australia’s Mine Action Strategy for 2010-2014. As a mine action donor, we support a number of clearance, victim assistance and mine risk education projects, primarily in the Asia-Pacific region. Over the last 15 years we have contributed over $275 million to mine action benefitting over twenty affected states.
Australia continues to support efforts since 2008 to revitalize and re-energise our work under Amended Protocol II.
Australia has been pleased to work as the Coordinator on Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) over the last year. We would like to thank the valuable assistance of participating States for their contributions to these discussions.
IEDs are a threat to security forces and the broader civilian population in those countries where these weapons are indiscriminately deployed. Australia knows all too well the devastating effects of IEDs, having just lost another brave soldier in Afghanistan to an IED attack in October this year. More than a third of all combat deaths incurred by Australian forces in Afghanistan have been caused by IEDs. Australians have also been affected by IEDs in the tragic terrorist bombings in Bali in 2002 and 2005, at the Australian Embassy bombing in Jakarta in 2004 and at the Ritz Carlton Hotel bombing in Jakarta in 2009.
We understand that a significant number of IED attacks also occur in other countries where they are being deployed as an insurgent or terrorist device to target civilians. It is women, children and men, who often bear the brunt of IED attacks.
Australia welcomes national efforts to combat the spread of IEDs. We also recognise there is a need for more coordinated responses to combat IEDs and this is the right forum to conduct further work on the IED threat. In this regard, Australia acknowledges the progress made in the Meeting of Experts in April this year, particularly on sharing information about the impacts, design and use of IEDs and providing a clear indication that collectively we can work together to deter and reduce IED attacks.
We note that a great deal of work is being conducted by military and police forces to defeat the IED threat and to protect security and civilian personnel from the impact. However, more effective protected vehicles, personal body armour and improved detection equipment only solve part of a broader problem. Programs that increase awareness and knowledge, as well as actions that reinforce the rule of law, need to be part of a comprehensive approach.
While programs exist to restrict the global supply of military munitions and to clear the explosive remnants of war, the recent surge in global IED activity has highlighted the diversion of legally produced materials into an illicit trade network. Actions which protect business and trade while restricting diversion could mostly be achieved through building upon the work of the World Customs Organisation, through their Global Shield initiative, which monitors precursors that could be used in the manufacture of IEDs.
In this context, and in light of our role as the Coordinator on IEDs, Australia strongly supports continuing work on IEDs within the CCW framework in 2013 and identifying methods to minimise IED use into the future.
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 which conduct is considered permissible during military conflicts. Australia will continue to support strengthening the Protocol’s role in establishing, maintaining and reinforcing international norms and also promoting its universality.