Protocol V: Explosive Remnants of War (ERW)
9-10 November 2015
Statement by Australia
Thank you Mr President, we congratulate you on your election as chair of this conference.
Australia is pleased to participate in this 9th conference of CCW Protocol V. We have had a long and steadfast commitment to reducing the harmful impact that explosive remnants of war have on individuals and communities, long after hostilities have ceased. Australia is a strong supporter of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, and the Convention on Cluster Munitions and would like to recognise in this forum the remarkable success of these instruments, particularly the Mine Ban Convention, in reducing the civilian casualties and economic loss caused by antipersonnel mines. We urge states present which have not acceded to these conventions to do so.
Through our long term Mine Action programs, we have been working with partner agencies, to clear explosive remnants of war in over twenty countries including Afghanistan, Cambodia, Iraq, Laos, Lebanon, Mozambique Palau and Sri Lanka. Since 2010, we have contributed more than 125 million Australian dollars towards survey and clearance as well as risk education, care, rehabilitation and social and economic reintegration of victims of explosive remnants of war. This has been of major benefit to improving the security, restoring the livelihoods and enhancing the economic prospects of affected communities. During the last year, Australia has conducted clearance, and/or capacity building in Cambodia, Palau, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and the Bougainville region of Papua New Guinea.
Our victim assistance contribution of around 2.4m Australian dollars over the next 3 years will enable us to assist in the recovery of victims of all types of ERW. Australia continues to conduct advocacy and awareness internationally on the importance of non-discrimination and respect for the rights of victims of ERW. We continue to work with partners and donors to build the capacity of national mine actions programs to address the long-term challenges of ERW contamination particularly in the Indo-Pacific region.
Australia’s aid programming on disability services follows the twin track approach. We aim to have both disability-specific programs which target people with disabilities to increase on their participation, and a mainstream approach, which enables people with disabilities to participate in and benefit from all our aid investments across all sectors.
In May this year Australia launched (Development for All 2015-2020), our second disability-inclusive development strategy which aims to strengthen disability inclusion across our aid program, in order to improve the quality of life of people with disabilities, including victims of ERW, in developing countries.
Australia’s support through our aid program is complemented by clearance work undertaken by the Australian Defence Force through OPERATION RENDER SAFE, an enduring contribution to the clearance, removal and destruction of explosive ordnance in the South West Pacific.
In 2015 Operation RENDER SAFE conducted explosive ordnance removal activities in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, in conjunction with the Defence Forces of New Zealand, United States, Canada along with the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force. In August 2015 and ADF Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) team, as part of Operation RENDER SAFE removed a 227kg bomb which was found near a school on the island of Santo in Vanuatu.
The Australian Defence Force also assists Pacific Nations through EOD training initiatives to develop explosive hazard awareness and assist these nations to develop their own independent EOD capabilities.
Through our Defence Cooperation Program, Australia is continuing to support explosive ordnance disposal capacity development in Solomon Islands and provides enduring support to the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force EOD training centre, including for infrastructure development, specialist equipment and training.
The Australian Defence Force has a track record of pro-actively dealing with ERW in theatres of operations even before active hostilities have formally ceased, wherever practical and safe to do so. The intent of this approach is to mitigate the threat posed by unexploded ordnance, by destroying items as they are found, subject to the tactical situation, rather than dealing with them after the cessation of active hostilities and regardless of which party to the conflict may have deployed the munition.
The ADF ensures that detailed electronic reports, including Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) databases, are maintained by all relevant commands and are populated with information from Australian military forces in the field. It is a requirement that the information be submitted to ADF command headquarters in the theatre of operations and back to Australia.
The ADF operational level headquarters in Australia has a standing requirement to maintain a comprehensive register that includes reporting of ERW incidents. This register includes where possible the nature, type, quantity and condition of the Unexploded Ordnance or Abandoned Explosive Ordnance any actions taken to mark, clear, remove and/or destroy these items; their location; and an assessment of the threat posed.
The ERW register also aims to provide detailed information about reporting steps taken; any future action required to deal with the items; and any warnings issued or risk education provided to military forces or the local community.
The Australian Defence Force also retains and transmits information on ERW to allies and partners to facilitate clearance activities
Thank you Mr President