Thank you Mr. Chairman,
We share the desire expressed by many states today that the CCW be a strong and relevant international instrument. However, for those on the outside looking in, this cluster munition process of the past four years can only be seen as damaging to the reputation of the CCW. It is hard not to conclude that it has been a lengthy, costly exercise in futility-one that at best would have little positive humanitarian impact, and that in fact risks doing more harm than good.
It is clear that there are still vast divides in views, not just between states that support a comprehensive ban and those that support continuing use of cluster munitions, but also among those states that want to continue using the weapons. The fundamental differences have not narrowed meaningfully in four years-four years-and it is hard to imagine that they will in the future.
It is time to stop the negotiations on cluster munitions in the CCW. They are no longer worth the time, money, and human resources required. We would prefer that they stop now. But if there must be one more last ditch effort (and there have already been several of those in recent years), then states should limit the work to one or two weeks only, and should have a firm deadline to conclude at the Review Conference in November 2011-either with or without a protocol (or perhaps it is with or without an agreement on a "proposal").
The vast majority of states here, and many of the individual diplomats here, were just in Vientiane, Laos for the First Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions. The contrast of experiences could hardly be more stark. These states (again most now sitting here) were outdoing each other with ever-more vigorous condemnations of all cluster munitions as indiscriminate weapons that should never be used again by anyone, anywhere. There was no talk of banning only with cluster munitions produced before 1980.
In an astounding demonstration of commitment to urgent and concrete measures to deal with cluster munitions, states agreed to a 66-point Vientiane Action Plan. This comprehensive action plan of positive steps did not include the notion of concluding an alternative legally-binding instrument with much lesser standards that would encourage use of cluster munitions known to cause unacceptable harm to civilians.
Despite the assertions of a number of states, the Convention on Cluster Munitions and this CCW process on cluster munitions are not complementary. Instead, they are setting international law at loggerheads with itself. Coming in the wake of the comprehensive ban treaty embraced by most of the world's nations, adoption of a weak CCW protocol with partial restrictions would set a horrible precedent in international law.
We do not find convincing arguments that the CCW negotiations must continue in order to include some of the major users, producers, and stockpilers of cluster munitions, often citing statistics made up out of thin air about the percentages of cluster munitions covered by the Convention on Cluster Munitions versus a handful of CCW states. One only needs to look at the sustained and long-lasting success of the Mine Ban Treaty, where the same group of major users, producers, and stockpilers are not party, where they likewise held the vast majority of stocks of the weapon. Yet the Mine Ban Treaty has had a tremendous impact and through its thorough stigmatization of the weapon has had a powerful effect even on those that have not yet joined.
It would be positive for some states not ready to join the ban convention to take some of the steps envisioned in the draft CCW protocol. But they should do it at the national level, as national measures, as interim steps toward a comprehensive ban.
Mr. Chairman, in conclusion, let me stress that there are much better ways for the CCW to spend its time next year and into the future. Human Rights Watch is urging states to re-visit Protocol III on incendiary weapons, with a view to future amendment. The protocol does not adequately fulfill its purpose of protecting civilians from the effects of incendiary munitions. In particular, it does not adequately address the dangers to civilians from the use of surface-delivered incendiary weapons, as opposed to air-delivered, and it does not adequately address the dangers to civilians from the use of white phosphorus as an incendiary weapon.
Human Rights Watch has prepared a memorandum to delegates that lays out the shortcomings of the protocol and provides options for amendment-a process that should begin at the Review Conference next year. We would like to speak at greater length on this matter later, during the appropriate spot in the agenda.