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Statements in International Organisations


Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons - Group of Governmental Experts: Opening Statement (Geneva, 14 - 18 January 2008)

Statement on behalf of the European Union by H.E. Ambassador Andrej Logar, Permanent Representative of Slovenia to the Conference on Disarmament

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Mr Chairman,

1. I am speaking on behalf of the European Union. [The candidate countries: Turkey, Croatia*, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, and EFTA countries: Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, members of the European Economic Area, as well as the Republic of Moldova and Armenia align themselves with this declaration.]

2. Ambassador Wigotski, please allow me to begin by welcoming you to the chair of this session of the Group of Governmental Experts of the State Parties to the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects (CCW) and to assure you of the full support and co-operation of the European Union. We would also like to express our gratitude to Ambassador Verros for the work he steered us to in November 2007.

3. The problems connected with cluster munitions are well known. Cluster munitions that spread large numbers of explosive submunitions over very large areas can present a high risk of civilian causalities. Cluster munitions also have long-term and deadly consequences for civilians when their submunitions fail to explode as intended and become explosive remnants of war.

4. As we have reiterated in the past, the European Union is convinced that this matter needs to be dealt with urgently and effectively, taking into account both military requirements and humanitarian concerns. Countless urgent calls for action on cluster munitions have already been made world-wide, inter alia by the UN Secretary-General, the International Committee of the Red Cross, a large and rapidly increasing number of States, as well as many prominent representatives of the civil society. Discussions have already been held in fora other than the CCW, in particular at the Conferences on Cluster Munitions held in Oslo, Lima, Belgrade and Vienna, at the ICRC Expert Meeting in Montreux and at the Brussels European Regional Conference on Cluster Munitions.


Mr Chairman,

5. A clear consensus exists on the need to urgently address the humanitarian impact of cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm to civilians as demonstrated by the adoption of a mandate to negotiate a proposal at the last November meeting of the State Parties. The EU welcomes this decision which allows the CCW to seriously address this issue. The EU joined the consensus on the decision to establish a GGE to deal with this matter because we consider that this decision will allow us to promote the proposal submitted by the EU at the GGE of June 2007 to negotiate, by the end of 2008, a legally binding instrument that addresses the humanitarian concerns of cluster munitions in all their aspects. The EU considers that work on cluster munitions conducted both within the CCW and the Oslo process is complementary and mutually reinforcing and that each forum can benefit from work done in the other, by taking advantage, inter alia, of the military and technical expertise of the CCW.

6. The European Union believes there is a political will to take forward the work on elaborating a new protocol to the CCW. We commend all delegations, including EU Member States, which have taken the initiative of putting forward draft texts and ideas to allow for constructive work during the year ahead of us. We have in front of us an intensive programme of work of up to seven weeks and an important task to accomplish.

7. The momentum for dealing with the issue of cluster munitions is now more evident then ever and the Group of Governmental Experts has a unique opportunity to demonstrate that the CCW is a dynamic instrument responsive to new humanitarian and technical challenges, which was confirmed by the adoption of Protocol V on Explosive Remnants of War in 2003 and its entry into force in 2006. We should further demonstrate that the CCW is able to show its relevance to matters of international humanitarian law in general and humanitarian concerns of cluster munitions in particular. To achieve this result we will work with all other State Parties and will spare no effort for a successful outcome of this GGE.

8. The EU is of the view that this week should allow us to identify the main issues that will have to be examined during the course of this year and to agree on a general framework in order to structure the work of the GGE.

The European Union believes that the key elements for negotiating the proposal should include, inter alia:

  • Definition and Scope with a particular focus on definitions, into which also military and technical experts could be tasked to look;
  • Prohibition on the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of those cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm to civilians;
  • Rules for the protection of civilians;
  • Clearance;
  • Stockpiles destruction;
  • Transition arrangements;
  • Victim Assistance;
  • International cooperation and assistance.
  • There should also be a clear connection to Protocol V on clearance and to other provisions of the international humanitarian law.

9. Timing is of the essence. The proposed schedule of meetings foresees a void between January and July. The European Union supports the idea that one of the meetings be held as early as April to enable work to proceed in a more timely manner and to ensure the momentum is maintained. In the opinion of the European Union it is important to focus on definitions in the January session of the GGE.

10. The European Union has expressed its commitment to negotiate a legally binding instrument that addresses the humanitarian concerns of cluster munitions in all their aspects by the end of 2008. Our aim is to conclude a legally binding instrument prohibiting the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm to civilians, which would include provisions on co-operation and assistance. The EU urges delegations to build upon the momentum created last November by the adoption of a mandate to negotiate a proposal and confirm without delay their political will to carry out this mandate and be in a position to make concrete proposals at the next meeting of States Parties in November 2008, which we sincerely hope will lead to the adoption of a new Protocol to the Convention.

Thank you, Mr Chairman.

[1] Croatia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.


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Date: 17.04.2008