Australian Permanent Mission and Consulate-General
Geneva, Switzerland
Address: Chemin des Fins 2, Case Postale 102, 1211 Geneva 19 - Telephone: 022 799 9100 - Fax: 022 799 9178

Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons
Fourth Review Conference

Cluster Munitions Protocol

Statement by Mr Philip Kimpton, First Secretary, Australian Permanent Mission

25 November 2011


Mr President

We have reached the end of a long negotiation process for a new protocol on cluster munitions within the CCW. It has involved four years of detailed and exhaustive discussions on cluster munitions, their impacts and technical features. We are particularly grateful to the chairmen of the Group of Governmental Experts, most recently Gary Domingo who steered our work for the last two years, and also to Ambassador Danon of France as Chairman of Main Committee II. Their hard work, diligence and commitment ought to be acknowledged.

These negotiations have always been a challenge. Negotiations on conventional arms control and international humanitarian law are never straight forward, and negotiations on this protocol were no exception.

There have been widely divergent views on fundamental approaches and often not a shared goal of reaching new standards in the CCW. While a strong supporter of the Convention on Cluster Munitions – which we will continue to encourage all States to join – Australia has always believed that the negotiations in the CCW had the potential to build useful minimum standards applicable to the States which possess cluster munitions. We believed that the two instruments could have existed together and complemented each other, as greater acceptance of the inherent dangers of cluster munitions grew and more States joined the CCM.

The protocol had the potential to see many millions of cluster munitions banned and destroyed. It would have brought new modern disciplines to CCW States Parties on topics like clearance, victim assistance, international cooperation and assistance and transparency. This protocol could have reinforced and built on existing obligations in Protocol V, reducing risks of accidents with cluster munition remnants and returning land to affected communities for productive use.

In our view, the draft protocol moved a long way since its early drafts. It was certainly no one-way street. The respective chairmen took account of the interests of all sides. Its potential humanitarian impact was meaningfully strengthened by the hard work of several delegations which maintained strong principled positions on these issues. We thank everyone who has engaged constructively in efforts to find a solution that was acceptable to all.

We are disappointed, that after all our collective effort, a mutually satisfactory outcome could not be reached in the CCW.

This disappointment aside, Australia remains firmly committed to the CCW and we will continue to work with other states in the coming years to address humanitarian issues in the use of conventional weapons that cause indiscriminate and excessive harm to civilians.

Thank you, Mr President.