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2nd Review Conference of the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons: a proposal for a new Protocol on Explosive Remnants of War

03-12-2001

The ICRC has proposed that States Parties consider the adoption of a new protocol to the CCW which could significantly reduce the human casualties and socio-economic consequences caused by explosive remnants of war.

The   United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW)(Protocol I)(Protocol IV)  , adopted in 1980, seeks to minimize the effects of certain weapons in conflict and post-conflict situations. The Convention is the primary instrument of international humanitarian law regulating weapons which may have indiscriminate effects or cause unnecessary suffering or superfluous injury. The Convention contains two protocols which prohibit weapons employing fragments not detectable by X-rays   and blinding laser weapons .

    

Two others place limitations on the use of landmines, booby traps and similar devices (Protocol II ) and incendiary weapons (Protocol III)  due to thei r potentially indiscriminate effects. It also requires certain steps be taken after the conflict to limit the effects of landmines, booby traps and other devices on civilian populations and to facilitate the clearance of these munitions.

The second Review Conference of the CCW will be held 11 to 21 December 2001 in Geneva. One of the purposes of the Conference is to consider proposals to strengthen and develop the rules to minimize the effects of certain weapons. It provides an important opportunity for the international community to address the problems caused of explosive remnants of war.

The ICRC has proposed that States Parties consider the adoption of a new protocol to the CCW which could significantly reduce the human casualties and socio-economic consequences caused by explosive remnants of war. As proposed by the ICRC, the protocol would

  • establish a responsibility for those who use explosive munitions to clear those which remain following the end of hostilities or providing the technical and material assistance needed to ensure such clearance. This responsibility could be supported by a variety of technical measures including, for example, a requirement that munitions (including submunitions) be equipped with self-destruction mechanisms and a requirement that they be made detectable.

  • require the rapid provision of technical information to the UN and demining bodies to facilitate swift clearance and minimize risk to clearance personnel

  • require those who use munitions likely to have long term effects to provide information to organizations conducting mine/UXO awareness and provide effective advance warning to the civilian population about the d elivery of such munitions;

  • prohibit the use of submunitions against any military objective located within a concentration of civilians.

 The next steps  

There are a wide range of legal, military and technical issues which need to be examined in relation to this proposal. Thus, formal negotiation of a treaty text is not expected when the Review Conference convenes in December. Rather, it is expected that the Conference will adopt a mandate for further work on this subject by government experts beginning in 2002. Such work has received wide support from governments during the Review Conference Preparatory process. The meetings of the expert group would be open to all States Parties as well as observer States. It is hoped that governments from war-affected countries, in particular, will participate in this work and bring their expertise and experience to the discussions.