Thank you Mr. Chairman

We wish to respond to the proposal to remove the reference to white phosphorus from the Final Document’s section on the “Review of the Protocols.” It is important to keep it in this place.

First, white phosphorus was discussed as an incendiary weapon in the context of Protocol III by several states in Main Committee I last week, including Australia, Belarus, Germany, the Holy See, and Qatar. 

Additionally, in letters received by Human Rights Watch, Austria and Switzerland have stated that they are considering the possibility of amending the protocol, while Saudi Arabia affirmed that it would be willing to consider this issue if there is consensus during the review conference.  Ireland said it is “open to proposals to consider particular weapons in the CCW context, including white phosphorus.” Belgium, Canada, and New Zealand have also indicated their readiness to discuss Protocol III. Clearly there are many states that are concerned about Protocol III and how it applies to white phosphorus.

Second, white phosphorus is used as an incendiary weapon. It is not just used for marking and obscuring. It is also used for incendiary purposes and causes the same horrific injuries as other incendiary munitions. Indeed, that is one of the reasons why Human Rights Watch is calling for a review of Protocol III. To provide adequate humanitarian protections, the protocol should expand its definition to encompass all weapons with incendiary effects and should include stronger regulations or prohibitions that eliminate the distinction between air- and ground-launched incendiary munitions.

Thank you.