HI Update on the Convention on Cluster Munitions, October 2011

Second meeting of states parties to the convention on cluster munitions in Beirut, Lebanon from 12 to 16 September 2011

Representatives from more than 120 states attended the Second Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions in Beirut from 12 to 16 September 2011. The States Parties adopted the closing Declaration, which also strongly condemned the use of cluster munitions. During the conference Swaziland acceded to the Convention, becoming the 63rd State Party. Forty countries having not yet joined the Convention attended the conference as observers. Delegates from Malaysia, Gabon, Kiribati, Tajikistan and South Sudan indicated they plan to accede to the Convention. Thailand said it is at a critical juncture in assessing its stance towards accession.

Universalisation

“Despite the progress, we must ask, during this past year, how many men, women and children have lost their lives and limbs due to these horrific weapons? How many communities have continued to face economic hardship because remnants continue to lie un-cleared in land desperately needed for subsistence and development? (…) And how many survivors have struggled because victim assistance has not been prioritized in their country or by other countries who could lend support?” So, US Ban Advocate Lynn Bradach asked in her statement on universalisation on behalf of CMC. She confirmed: “It is only through universal adherence to the CCM - through us working globally together - that we can end the suffering that these indiscriminate weapons cause. During this first year since entry into force, we have sadly seen the use of cluster bombs in Libya, and we also documented the use of cluster munitions by Thailand in Cambodia. These instances of use were publicly condemned by some States Parties and in the case of Libya by the European Union, but we would like to see more States Parties condemning any use of cluster munitions by any actor.” She added that “Further stigmatization of cluster bombs is essential to prevent new use in the future.”

She called on states “to make firm commitments to progress in this second year since entry into force” and added: “The more countries that join the Convention, the stronger the stigma against the weapon becomes, and the more difficult it will be for states that have not yet joined the Convention to use these weapons without a public and political backlash. The power of the stigma against cluster munitions comes in part because of the comprehensive nature of the Convention and its categorical ban. While the CMC encourages countries that have not yet joined to take interim steps at a national level, all States Parties to this Convention should acknowledge that there can be no alternative legal standard on cluster munitions.” Lynn Bradach admitted that: “A small proportion of countries, including my own, the United States, have thus far distanced themselves from CCM. While acknowledging the harm cluster bombs can cause, they justify use, stockpiling and production on military grounds. My son’s story demonstrates that this stance is short sighted. Travis was a US Marine who volunteered to stay on in Iraq to clear a horrific weapon used by his own country. This choice led to his death and to the critical injury of fellow soldiers. (…) Unsuitable to modern warfare, cluster bombs not only put at risk civilian lives but also those of friendly troops and military personnel involved in post-conflict clearance.” And she wondered: “What justification can there really be for continuing to contribute to wholly preventable loss of life?” and concluded: “The CMC believes that every country in the world should be able to join the CCM. It is a question of political will and placing a priority on the protection of civilians over the use of indiscriminate weapons.”

  • Vietnam stated on 14 September 2011, that it supports the spirit and the humanitarian and disarmament goals of the CCM and stated that it is not yet “in a position to accede to the Convention”, adding that “we would like to make sure that we will be able to fulfill all obligations under the treaty once we accede to it. Vietnam expressed “concerns over the fact that victims states, rather than user states, are responsible for solving consequences of the past use of cluster munitions, while the mechanisms for international cooperation has yet to be institutionalized.” Finally, Vietnam stated that it “is developing a concrete roadmap for the consideration of accession to the Convention, and in the meantime, is taking measures largely in line with the spirit and letter of the Convention.” Vietnam stated that “Standard Guidelines for victim assistance and information, education and communication activities are (…) being developed. (…) Risk education is increasingly being conducted (…) And, we continue to provide assistance to the 62,000 victims of bombs, mines and other ERW, including treatment, rehabilitation and support for the victims' reintegration in social and economic activities.”
  • Malaysia stated the government “is currently in consultation with relevant stakeholders with the view to studying the possibility of Malaysia acceding to the Convention” (…) “in the near future.”
  • Gabon expressed its willingness to play an active role within the United Nations, having been called on to join States Parties to the Convention.
  • South Sudan said: “When I last addressed many of you at the Intersessional meetings for the Antipersonnel Landmine Treaty in Geneva I came as part of a single delegation from Sudan, today I stand here as the representative of the newest Member State of the United Nations and the newest country in the world. The Republic of South Sudan wishes to work with the States Parties and move towards signing this treaty and ratification of it, with the support of our neighbors in the south who have signed, we especially wish to invite our brothers in the East, West & North to join us in this journey. So, to our dear friends in east Africa and our brothers in the North, East & West, I ask you; can we make this journey together?” South Sudan confirmed that it “is not a user or producer of cluster munitions, but is a victim” and concluded ”…we do intend to join the CCM, but have many pressing issues to address not least the need to capacity build all departments of government and the judiciary. So in summary we will sign, but help us and allow us to sign with the knowledge that we will have the capacity to implement the treaty with in the 10 years allowed under article 4.”
  • Cambodia stated: “Cambodia is still assessing the impact of signing the CCM on its defense capability and the ability to comply with all obligations. In the meantime, we stand by the goals of the Convention” And added that “Cambodia is making every effort to identify areas contaminated by CM, and clear them according to community based priority setting mechanisms, educate the mine/CM/ERW/ affected communities about the risks and assist the victims” and sincerely hopes “that the ultimate signing is just being a matter of time.”
  • Tajikistan said that the CCM is of great importance while strengthening peace and security and stated that it “does not produce, stockpile and does not use cluster munitions.” Concerning the accession to the convention, Tajikistan said that the government is still considering and analyzing international obligations for compliance with their new obligations that may arise in the case of accession to the CCM. Tajikistan concluded that it supports the call to stop human suffering caused by cluster munitions and also supports the international community’s efforts to reach this goal (translation provided by Umarbek Pulodov, Ban Advocate, Tajikistan)
  • Thailand said on 14 September 2011 that it “is doing its best to work with our neighbors toward a peaceful coexistence. We are moving forward. We hope that we will be able to start a new chapter from now on.”

Positions on the negotiations under the CCW

  • Iran stated on 14 September 2011: “Based on our experiences with the contaminated regions, we support every effort at the regional and international level to eliminate the use of weapons that create long-lasting contaminations and cause indiscriminate risks to military personnel and civilians. We are also prepared to share our experiences with those countries affected by the use of these weapons. (…) However it goes without saying that a convention regulating the aspects of cluster munitions in order to be effective should include the major producers or possessors and the former users of these munitions.”
  • Lithuania recognized “that some states, including the largest producers and users of cluster munitions, are not yet ready to join the Convention. For this reason and having in mind the most urgent humanitarian concerns as well as a need to make a real impact on the ground, we are convinced that reaching an agreement and concluding a new additional protocol to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons is also important as a further step in the direction of the progressive restriction in the use of cluster munitions having a goal of its' total prohibition in the future.”
  • Belgium stated on 13 September 2011: “Belgium believes that such a protocol can only be possible insofar as it can generate a tangible humanitarian impact, complementary to that of our Convention. Also that it can generate a convergence process in the hands of the states concerned under the general standard through which we are linked here as members of the CCM, which includes making the Convention universal.”
  • Norway said on 16 September 2011: “… in the course of this week, many States Parties have expressed their grave concern over the use of cluster munitions, referring to the humanitarian consequences of these weapons. In light of this, it is more than a paradox that ongoing diplomatic efforts in Geneva are aiming at allowing for, and re-legitimizing, use of cluster munitions. I urge you all to let the conclusions from this conference also be reflected in Geneva.”
  • South Africa stated: “In our view, the latest Chair's text [on a protocol on cluster munitions] continues to raise serious concern, particularly in relation to definitions, prohibitions and restrictions, deferral periods and technical annexes that will, if adopted, reverse the gains made under the CCM. Of particular concern to my delegation is the implicit legitimization of continued use and production of cluster munitions that have been banned under the CCM. We believe that it is incumbent on all States Parties and Signatories of the CCM that are also States Parties to the CCW to work towards an outcome to the CCW process does not in any way undermine the letter or the spirit of the CCM. South Africa remains committed to contributing towards that aim.”
  • Austria stated: “In our view, there is even a potential challenge to the very fundamentals of the CCM that is taking place in the context of the negotiations of the CCW in Geneva.” As CCM States Parties, “we need to be mindful of our commitment that due to their unacceptable humanitarian consequences, we need to "discourage in every way possible all use, development, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster munitions".
  • CMC stated that States Parties that actively support and facilitate the adoption of a protocol on cluster munitions under the Convention on Conventional Weapons are acting counter to their CCM obligations.

Universalisation efforts

  • As a Friend of the President on Universalisation of the Convention, Japan has collaborated with several like-minded countries and organizations and explained that ”With regard to the States Parties and Signatories in our team, each of them sometimes focused their activities upon a particular area they are familiar with. Concretely, Lao PDR was active for Asia and Pacific, Lebanon for Middle East, Canada for North America, Chile for Latin America, Belgium mainly for Europe, Bulgaria particularly for Eastern Europe and Zambia for Africa. In addition, the ICRC and CMC cooperated with States Parties in the worldwide scale on a complementary basis.” In addition to aforementioned activities, Japan issued a co-signed letter with Lebanon in July of this year and sent it to most of the States not Parties, through Japanese Foreign Missions.
  • Since the First Meeting of States Parties, Australia said it has supported efforts to encourage universalisation of the Convention internationally, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region and supported two cluster munition universalisation workshops in Thailand and Cambodia, in August 2011. These workshops resulted in positive engagement from both Thailand and Cambodia on the Convention.
  • Belgium reported it worked along with Japan “to promote the Convention among all the States in the European continent” in bilateral and multilateral contexts.
  • Grenada noted (in a general statement) that “in the Caribbean Community only four countries have signed the Convention, while only three have gone on to become State Parties. (…) Grenada therefore, undertakes to play a leading role in promoting the accession and/or ratification of the Convention throughout the Caribbean region and welcomes the cooperation of other Member States and civil society organizations in its efforts.”
  • Ireland stated:”Over the past year, we have again used our network of Embassies and close relations with a number of states, including in Africa, Europe, and Southeast Asia, as well as multilateral opportunities, to open and maintain dialogue on universalisation and we will continue to do so. We see military to military contacts as an important element in this dialogue.”
  • Lao PDR said: “We took every possible opportunity to promote the Convention and urge states not parties to consider acceding to it as soon as possible. This has been carried out in many fora, such as in ASEAN context, in Non-Aligned Movement forums and at a number of bilateral meetings of which Lao delegation has made its call loud and firm for the promotion of the Convention.”
  • Lebanon stated that “the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants seized the opportunity of the Intersessional meeting to meet with the Permanent Representatives of the Arab States in Geneva to encourage their respective governments to participate in the Second Meeting of States Parties in Beirut and to consider their positions vis-a-vis the CCM.” Together with Laos, the Lebanese delegation managed “to insert a provision to the Final Declaration” of the meeting [of the Non-Aligned Movement held in Bali, May 2011], “recognizing the importance of the CCM and its humanitarian pillars.” Jointly with Japan, Lebanon addressed a letter, on behalf of the States Parties, to all States non-Parties, encouraging them to consider their position vis-a-vis the CCM and to adhere to it. The letter also expressed the readiness to assist States not Parties to tackle the challenges hindering their accession. It also invited them to attend the Second Meeting of States Parties as observers. Bilateral meetings were conducted in this context, during official visits to the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Bahrain. The Foreign Minister conducted an official demarche towards the Secretary General of the [Arab] League to attend the Second Meeting of States Parties.
  • The United Kingdom put the CCM on the agenda of the Conference for Commonwealth Members in London in October 2011 and is considering using the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth as another means of encouraging fellow Commonwealth Countries, not yet States Parties, to join the Convention.
  • Thailand mentioned the Workshop on Cluster Munitions held in August in Bangkok and stated that “The adverse effects of cluster munitions are now considered alongside the overall national security context.”
  • Moldova said in a written statement on universalisation that it is “so important to arrive, as soon as possible, at a uniform understanding of those provisions that raise problems of interpretation, including on the interpretation of the relationship between Articles I and 21. It is also important to direct additional specific efforts towards encouraging adherence of States which do not exercise complete control on parts of their territory and where non-state entities are temporarily in control. Those states might need additional assurances that they will be in a meaningful way assisted as future Parties with the Convention's implementation under those challenging circumstances. We are of the view, Mr. President, that these realities should be taken into consideration by the future Working Group on Universalisation, whose establishment as part of CCM's implementation architecture is fully supported by my delegation. In conclusion, let me stress that we find both promising and realistic the idea to develop a fast track approach to facilitate accession by small states with no operative obligations under Articles 3, 4 and 5 of the Convention.

Obstacles for accession

In a closing statement, Japan summarized the main obstacles for accession: a security reason, which includes the existence of the relevant industry in the country; the lack or the shortage of financial or human resources; the issue of perception- low prioritization, lack of the knowledge or recognition of the significance of the CCM itself and communication with legislative organizations
With regard to the second point, Japan suggested that the capacity building of the government officials by dispatching some experts to States not Party, and a seminar or workshop to strengthen the awareness of the importance of the CCM could be the indicative projects.

Interpretative issues

The CMC submitted a written declaration on interpretative issues, in particular on Article 21 of the CCM:
More information: Monitor Factsheet on Interoperability and the Prohibition on Assistance, September 2011 see
www.the-monitor.org/index.php/LM/Our-Research-Products/Factsheets

Victim’s Declaration

Cluster munition survivors delivered a statement calling on State Parties to “to take immediate action to make victim assistance services accessible for all” and reminding governments “that we have a right to be involved in all decisions being made about our lives.” Raed Mokaled, Ban Advocate from Lebanon, who lost his 5-year old son by a cluster munition, introduced the powerful Survivors’ Declaration, with a most appreciated call. The Declaration was delivered by Margaret Arach Orech, mine survivor from Uganda and by Thoummy Silamphan, cluster munition survivor from Lao PDR, surrounded on the podium by fellow survivors.

Decisions and adoption of outcome documents

The plenary adopted the Beirut Declaration, reaffirming states’ commitment to end the harm caused by cluster munitions and acknowledging the challenges that remain as well as other documents. The Third Meeting of States Parties will be held in Oslo, Norway, from 10 to 14 September 2012, with Ambassador Steffen Kongstad as President-Designate. The next Intersessional meetings will be held in Geneva from 16 to 19 April 2012.

 

Final drafts are available at
www.clusterconvention.org/documents/2msp-documents/

For the Survivor Declaration, the introduction by Raed Mokaled, the statement on Universalisation by Lynn Bradach on behalf of the CMC, the statement on Victim Assistance on behalf of the CMC by Aynalem Zenebe: see also www.handicapinternational.be