Thank you Mr. Chairman. We appreciate the long and hard work that so many governments have put into this effort to deal with cluster munitions in the CCW. However, we believe that the text as drafted will not enhance the CCW's reputation or credibility. Instead, it will hurt the CCW's reputation and credibility, because it is fundamentally flawed.
We believe that it will not make a humanitarian difference on the ground, that it will not advance international humanitarian law, and that it will not advance the goal of dealing with cluster munitions in an urgent and effective manner. This draft text does not fulfill the mandate of the Group of Governmental Experts.
It is our assessment that this draft protocol will not cause non-Olso Process states to change their cluster munition policies or practices. It will not constrain them in any meaningful way. It is, for example, much weaker than current US domestic policy.
Several speakers have asserted that non-Oslo Process states hold 90% of global stocks of cluster munitions. We would be very interested in knowing how that figure was arrived at, because there has not been a shred of transparency about the size of the cluster munition arsenals of Russia, China, Israel, India, Pakistan, and other states.
But even if it is accurate, the fact is that this draft protocol would allow ongoing use of ALL of that 90% of the world's arsenal for at least 13 to 20 years, including the oldest, most inaccurate, and most unreliable cluster munitions. These are the facts about this draft protocol. It would allow unconstrained use, production, and stockpiling for up to 20 years. Indeed, there is no requirement to destroy stockpiles EVER, much less a deadline by which to destroy them.
And even after the 20 year "transition period," states could still use--without restriction--cluster munitions that have been shown to cause unacceptable harm to civilians, most recently in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, and Georgia. This is the point so convincingly made earlier by Chris Clarke of UNMAS: the use of some of the most dangerous cluster munitions encountered by clearance personnel would still be allowed. The draft protocol permits the use IN PERPETUITY of cluster munitions known to cause unacceptable harm to civilians.
The transition period and the giant-sized exception in Article 4 are perhaps the biggest weaknesses of the draft protocol, but there are many others. The transfer restriction is extremely weak. The victim assistance provisions are a step back from the Convention on Cluster Munitions and came under further attack earlier today. The ICRC has just expressed grave concerns about the scattered and counter-productive IHL provisions in Article 3. And so on.
This draft protocol would only serve to legitimize cluster munitions and, therefore, would be harmful to the goal of protecting civilians from the ravages of war, both during and after armed conflict. The draft protocol would be invoked to put a sheen of legitimacy on any future use of cluster munitions by non-Oslo Process states.
In conclusion, we welcome and appreciate the joint statement made by the 26 nations indicating that the current draft text is unacceptable. We again call on all states that support the Convention on Cluster Munitions to reject the text as it now stands.