Legal Advisor Harold Hongju Koh today stressed that the United States United States has been a high-contracting party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons, the CCW, for a number of years.
“This is the first time in a review conference in which we’re a party both to the convention and all five of the existing protocols. The question here is whether we should support a sixth protocol, which is under discussion, about cluster munitions. And our position is that we should, based on the chair’s text that’s currently before the conference.” -Mr. Koh
He said the United States wanted to dispel at the outset the notion that in some way it is trying to detract from the Oslo Convention, which is a separate treaty outside the framework of the CCW, which also addresses clusters.
“We see the two as complementary, not as competitive. Nothing that we are saying or supporting would diminish or detract from the Oslo Convention, and we think that the protocol that’s under consideration here takes a significant step toward a goal that everybody shares, which is to address comprehensively the humanitarian impact of cluster munitions.” -Mr. Koh
He noted that many countries in the world are not parties to Oslo and are unlikely to become so, and that they represent 85 to 90 percent of the world’s cluster munition stockpiles.
“So a question then becomes: How do you regulate that 85 to 90 percent holders if they’re never going to join the Oslo Convention? And the obvious answer is to try to bring regulation into the CCW, where they do participate.” -Mr. Koh
He reported that under discussion right now is a ban on cluster munitions that are produced before 1980. He stressed if that were adopted as part of this protocol upon ratification and entry into force, it would immediately prohibit over 2 million cluster munitions or more than 100 million submunitions, which is about one-third of the entire U.S. stockpile of cluster munitions.
“To put it directly, if this rule is adopted, it would prohibit more cluster munitions for the United States alone, than the Oslo Convention has prohibited for all of its member states combined. And we think that this is a very significant humanitarian impact and should be supported.” -Mr. Koh
He cited that the two other advantages of adopting this protocol are that it would create a detailed set of rules about clusters, including obligations with regard to transparency, cooperation, clearance, assistance to victims, and technological assistance. And a third advantage is that the draft protocol is designed to evolve and grow stronger.
He stressed that the United States is deeply committed to conventional weapons destruction. They have provided more than $1.9 billion toward that goal since 1993 in some 81 countries