Geneva, Switzerland

Thank you for giving us the floor, Mr. Chairman. I am speaking on behalf of the Cluster Munition Coalition. We would like to thank all the States Parties who have put so much effort into trying to achieve a positive outcome during these negotiations on cluster munitions.  

However, we must say that we are not surprised at the lack of agreement on a new protocol and the inability to reach consensus. Indeed, it was evident to anyone sitting in the room all week that there were huge gulfs of disagreement on a wide range of issues. And the gulfs did not shrink much, or in many cases not at all, during the course of the week. Those huge differences still remain.

And it is not just the "group of 25" states (who yesterday issued a joint statement saying the current text is unacceptable) that have expressed deep reservations on many parts of the text. Others citing serious problems with the text included France, Germany, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, as well as Russia, India, and many others.

The views of the Cluster Munition Coalition on the draft text are now well-known to all of you. We have called it fundamentally flawed, citing in particular the up-to-20-year transition period, the massive loophole of exceptions in Article 4, the selective and counter-productive recitation of certain IHL rules, the weak article on transfers, and the backtracking provisions on victim assistance.

There would have to be major changes in many articles if this draft protocol were to have any significant humanitarian impact. We do not believe it would constrain in any meaningful way any of the major users and stockpilers of cluster munitions that are not part of the Oslo Process. It would not require them to do anything that they do not already do, or likely plan to do over the course of the next two decades, regarding cluster munitions.

This draft protocol would be damaging in that it would facilitate and legitimize future use of the weapon and would not inhibit it.

It is clear that for many in the room, the oft-cited "balance" of military and humanitarian concerns is tilted heavily to military considerations. That was evident in the fervent defense of cluster munitions that we have heard from several states, a defense that should offend the 107 countries that adopted the Convention on Cluster Munitions which bans cluster munitions on the grounds that their humanitarian cost outweighs their limited military utility.

It seems lost on many here that there are numerous major stockpilers, producers, and users of cluster munitions that have already decided to ban them. Not long ago (one or two years, or in some cases only months ago), many of them were making the same arguments in favor of cluster munitions that we have heard here. Military necessity often seems to dissipate in the face of political will.

We are convinced that the Convention on Cluster Munitions is the only effective solution to the cluster munition problem. It has been cited as a major advancement in international humanitarian law from many sides. But we do recognize that some nations will not be able to sign in December, and we encourage them to take steps that bring them closer to a ban and that help protect civilians from the effects of cluster munitions. It is possible some of those steps could be achieved through the CCW, but this week's and earlier experiences indicate that is not likely. 

Even if the work on cluster munitions continues in the CCW, we urge states that cannot sign in Oslo to take steps at the national level. We also suggest that the 22 countries that have stockpiles of cluster munitions and are party to the CCW, but are not part of the Oslo Process, consider a joint political declaration with a code of conduct on cluster munitions, perhaps modeled on the one numerous states endorsed when the CCW was unable to reach agreement on antivehicle mines (or MOTAPM) several years ago.

In conclusion, we encourage all CCW member states (and not just the 71 of them that adopted in Dublin) to get to Oslo on December 3 and sign the Convention on Cluster Munitions. If work continues in the CCW, which would be going into the eighth year of deliberations on cluster munitions, we wish you well in reaching an agreement that will truly make a difference in saving civilian lives, limbs, and livelihoods.

Thank you.