Handicap International Update on the Convention on Cluster Munitions

First Intersessional Standing Committee meeting on the Convention on Cluster Munitions

The First Intersessional Standing Committee meetings on the Convention on Cluster Munitions from 27 to 30 June 2011, was attended by 79 states, UN agencies, ICRC and CMC with campaigners from 40 countries, including 36 States Parties, 29 signatories and 14 non-signatories, namely Argentina, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Egypt, Finland, Kuwait, Malaysia, Qatar, Singapore, Sudan, Tajikistan, Thailand and Vietnam.
Thailand and Cambodia indicated that they are taking steps to accede to the Convention in the near future.
Two states, Albania and Zambia, have cleared their land of cluster munitions; 8 countries have already completed destruction of their entire stockpiles: Austria, Belgium, Ecuador, Moldova, Montenegro, Norway, Portugal, and Spain. Spain acknowledged that it had transferred cluster bombs to Libya prior to signing the ban treaty, but delivered a strong statement condemning Libya’s use of the weapons. Hungary, which has not yet ratified the Convention, also announced that it had completed the destruction of its stockpiled cluster munitions.
Although Canada has not yet completed its ratification process it did submit a voluntary Article 7 transparency report and provided an update on the progress of its stockpile destruction.
Many signatories gave statements that ratification should be completed soon, including: Australia, Czech Republic, Italy, Peru, Senegal, and South Africa. Switzerland explained the steps taken to advance its ratification process. The following states and organizations also provided updates on efforts made to promote CCM universalization in various fora: Australia, Belgium, Croatia, France, Japan (as friend of the President on universalization), Lao PDR, Lebanon, Mexico, Norway, the UK, ICRC and UNMAT. Ghana suggested the new working group on universalization should have specific targets and a clear timeline.
Norway offered to host the Third Meeting of States Parties, which received good support from the floor.

For an update on the Status of the Convention on Cluster Munitions: http://treaties.un.org/pages/Treaties.aspx?id=26&subid=A&lang=en

Statement by Thailand: “need to close this chapter”

Thailand made an intervention “with regard to an allegation on the use of cluster munitions” and stated: “Thailand fully understands the concerns raised and will remain committed to engaging with the international community on this issue. Thailand, therefore, has accepted the proposal made by Norway and other like-minded countries to organize an inter-agency seminar on cluster munitions in Bangkok, tentatively scheduled for the beginning of August. We hope that the seminar will help pave the way for Thailand to better prepare for our accession to the Convention in the near future.”
Thailand reiterated that it attaches “great importance” to fulfilling “its obligations under international humanitarian law” and added: “In this regard, we strongly uphold the need to ensure the safety of civilians in conflict situations. We also believe that it is important to bear in mind the range of factors that come into play in such situation and to reiterate that Thailand has no intention to exacerbate the situation and is committed to strive for a peaceful solution”.
Thailand explained that it has “always acted in self-defense and in accordance with our guiding principles of necessity and proportionality” and admitted that “Important lessons have been learnt from this episode and we therefore see the need to close this chapter and move forward.”

Cambodia: accession is “just a matter of time”

Cambodia said that accession to the Convention is “just a matter of time”, that there have been discussions at the "highest level of the government and that “some common understanding in favor of the Convention on Cluster Munitions was reached.” Cambodia stated that “the issue is now in the hands of our top leadership” and it hoped “that an announcement” regarding its position vis-à-vis the CCM “can be made before the 11th Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty in Phnom Penh [Cambodia, November 2011].
Cambodia also said that it had committed itself “to the provisions of the CCM in terms of clearance, assisting the Victims from both mines and ERW, providing risk education, surveying and mapping the contaminated areas (…) and also reporting (article 7 report on the Mine Ban Treaty).

National legislation shouldn’t allow assistance to use of cluster munitions

On 29 June 2011, CMC stated that national legislation should explicitly prohibit transit of cluster munitions through the State Party’s territory, stockpiling of cluster munitions by a state not party on the State Party’s territory, and investment of both public and private funds in the manufacture of cluster munitions or their components.
CMC referred to some models for how to implement certain provisions, for example: New Zealand and Norway allow for participation in joint military operations yet preserve the convention’s prohibitions; Austria and Germany explicitly ban transit, and Austria has set a deadline of just three years for stockpile destruction; Belgium, Ireland, Luxembourg, and New Zealand prohibit certain forms of investment.
On the other hand, CMC warned Australia that it’s “proposed legislation falls short of meeting the spirit and the letter of the convention in several ways. Most notably, it would allow assistance with use of cluster munitions during joint military operations.”

Warning for a protocol under the CCW allowing cluster munitions use

On day one of the Intersessional Standing Committee meetings on the Convention on Cluster Munitions (27 June 2011) ICRC referred to the negotiation of a CCW Protocol VI on cluster munitions during the session on universalization and urged States Parties to give high priority to ensuring that norms and practices do not evolve that contradict the Convention’s prohibitions” and urged “these States to be very attentive to the risk that such a protocol would encourage the continued use of munitions known to be prohibited by the CCM and to put civilians at risk.”
ICRC confirmed to be “convinced” that “a protocol that contradicts the CCM would have negative implications for adherence to the CCM and its universalization.” Moreover, ICRC urged states “to carefully consider the point at which their role goes beyond mere participation and may constitute encouraging or inducing the use of prohibited cluster munitions by others.”

On 29 June, during the Compliance session of the Intersessional Standing Committee on the CCM, CMC said: “It seems crystal clear to us that support for the chairman’s draft protocol on cluster munitions being considered in the CCW is completely at odds with efforts to stigmatize the weapon and establish a new norm rejecting any use of cluster munitions. Indeed, support for the protocol may well be contrary to the Convention on Cluster Munitions’ legal requirements to discourage any use of cluster munitions and not to encourage any act prohibited by the CCM.”

Norway

Norway stated at the same session: “The text of the current Chairman’s draft protocol under the CCW Framework Convention suggests a substantially lower standard than the existing CCM standard for defining cluster munitions. It will for example allow for the use of cluster munitions that are designed to leave up to 1% unexploded ordnance as well as cluster munitions where the explosive munitions possess only one safeguard mechanism. In addition, compliance may as a point of departure be deferred for 12 years, even for the types of munitions that would eventually fall under a ban in a protocol to the CCW. If adopted in its current form, it seems clear that the future CCW Protocol will contribute to re-legitimizing the use, production, development, transfer etc. of weapons that are known to cause unacceptable harm to civilians and are prohibited by the CCM for that reason, for instance the M85 being one example.

Norway questioned “whether accession to this new instrument could be seen as compatible with the obligations under the CCM. Moreover, one may question whether to accept the adoption of such a protocol might be problematic with regard to the obligations laid down in the CCM.” Norway stated that “supporting the adoption of a protocol that will legitimize the use of cluster munitions cannot be seen as promoting the Convention on Cluster Munitions, nor can it be seen as discouraging States not party to the CCM from using cluster munitions.”

The Declaration by the First Meeting of States Parties to the CCM in Vientiane, Laos, in 2010 states and Vientiane Action Plan emphasize the agreement by the Meeting of States Parties regarding the interpretation of the CCM. They underline the fundamental difficulties with reconciling the adoption of a protocol allowing the use of cluster munitions, with the obligations of inter alia Article 21 of the CCM.” Norway warns it’s “considering the possibility of raising these issues as a matter of concern with regard to compliance with the CCM, at the Second Meeting of States Parties of the CCM.”

Mexico

In the same context, Mexico expressed concern because, in the framework of the CCW, the signatory countries of the CCM, allow progress in the negotiations for a protocol on cluster munitions containing faint prohibitions, combined with exceptions in the technical annexes, lax restrictions and provisions relating to production, destruction of stockpiles, clearance, transfer and use, and an explicit authorization of categories of weapons that cause excessive damage to the civilians and, therefore, stimulate improvements of these weapon system.” Mexico invited the signatories and state parties to the CCM to reject different standards for large producers, stockpilers and users of cluster munitions in accordance to our commitment to achieving a world free of cluster munitions.”

Australia and UK

Australia and UK, stated in response to comments made on the protocol within the CCW that it does not “share the view that participation in, and support for, those negotiations somehow is contrary to the letter or the spirit of paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 21” of the CCM.

For more information about the Intersessional Standing Committees on the Convention on Cluster Munitions

www.clusterconvention.org/
 

Mines action canada
www.stopclustermunitions.org/news/?id=3086www.minesactioncanada.org

Statement of Cambodia
www.clusterconvention.org

Statement of Thailand
www.handicapinternational.be

CMC press release on 29 March 2011 “A CCW Protocol on Cluster Munitions: Weaker Protection for Civilians
www.stopclustermunitions.org

Cluster Munition Monitor, Country Profiles, and Factsheets
www.the-monitor.org/