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Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons
Meeting of High Contracting Parties
General Exchange of Views
15 November 2012
Mr President, let me congratulate you on your appointment to this important role and assure you of Australia’s full cooperation in your work.
Australia has had a long-standing commitment to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) and its humanitarian aims. We are a party to all five protocols as well as the amendments to the Convention and Amended Protocol II.
Yesterday, Australia presented its report as the Coordinator on IEDs under Amended Protocol II and strongly supports continued work on this important topic. I hope that High Contracting Parties here today, who are affected by IEDs or moved by the plight of those civilians which are affected, also support exploring further work within the CCW on IEDs in 2013 and beyond.
Next year will mark the 30th year of the Convention’s entry into force. Now more than ever, High Contracting Parties need to ensure the Convention is able to fulfill its mandate to prohibit or restrict the use of those weapons that are excessively injurious or have indiscriminate effects. The CCW needs to continue to demonstrate its relevance as a key instrument of international humanitarian law.
Australia is pleased to welcome Burundi to the CCW and a number of its protocols. 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 High Contracting Parties that have not yet accepted all of the Convention’s Protocols, including Amended Protocol II, to do so.
Australia continues to promote the CCW and its protocols, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region. We were pleased to have contributed funding and technical expertise for the recent Regional Meeting in Palau on the Implementation of the Pacific Islands Forum Regional Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) Strategy.
Over the last five years, Australia has also contributed $100,000 to the sponsorship program, in recognition that it is a valuable tool to promote the goals of the CCW, enhance its universalisation and assist its effective implementation.
Australia supports efforts to strengthen the CCW. Last year the High Contracting Parties failed to conclude a new protocol on cluster munitions. This failure should compel High Contracting Parties to think carefully about what future work the High Contracting Parties should embark on in 2013 and beyond.
One area of outstanding business for the Convention is mines other than anti-personnel mines (MOTAPM). Undetectable and persistent MOTAPM pose humanitarian risks to civilians. The recent death of three farmers after their truck hit an anti-tank mine left over from the decade of civil war in Cambodia on 8 October 2012 is a demonstration of the awful and long lasting consequences these weapons can have.
This risk could be countered effectively through regulation of the use and design of such weapons. Australia supports continued discussions on MOTAPM if there is support by all High Contracting Parties to continue this work.
The CCW remains an important – if not exclusive – tool for elaborating IHL rules on weapons that are excessively injurious or have indiscriminate effects.
This international standard-setting has been complemented by technical work on implementation, transparency and compliance, which is a welcome supplement to the CCW framework. In this regard, we acknowledge the important role of the Implementation Support Unit in assisting High Contracting Parties in their efforts to progress this work.
Through regularly strengthening the Convention and its protocols, and by ensuring our associated work is meaningful and productive, we have the opportunity to maintain the CCW as a relevant and robust IHL and arms control instrument, now and into the future.