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Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons
Amended Protocol II on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Mines, Booby Traps and Other Devices
Twelfth Annual Conference of High Contracting Parties
Statement by HE Mr Peter Woolcott
Ambassador for Disarmament
and Permanent Representative of Australia
to the United Nations in Geneva
24 November 2010
Mr President, let me congratulate you on your election and assure you of our full cooperation as you guide this meeting to a successful conclusion today.
We also convey our appreciation to the two Coordinators for their work in enhancing the implementation and understanding of Amended Protocol II.
Amended Protocol II marked an advance in addressing humanitarian concerns relating to anti-personnel landmines. Its prohibition of booby-traps, restrictions on anti-personnel landmines and provisions on marking and fencing represented important developments in international law. Moreover, the adherence of key mine-using and producing states has helped to broaden the scope of these gains.
Of course many of Amended Protocol II’s obligations have been superseded by the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, to which the large majority of States are parties and which Australia strongly supports.
Australia welcomes the Dominican Republic and Gabon as new State Parties since the last Annual Conference, bringing the total number of States Parties to Amended Protocol II to 95.
Australia has continued to implement its obligations under Amended Protocol II and of course as a State Party to the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention.
Australia’s contribution to mine action is also set out in our national report. As a major mine action donor, we support a number of clearance, victim assistance and mine risk education projects, primarily in the Asia-Pacific region.
Mr President Australia has supported efforts since 2008 to revitalize and re-energise our work under Amended Protocol II. We welcomed the opportunity to discuss how to tackle problems associated with improvised explosive devices (IEDs) during the group of experts meeting in April. We would like to thank the Coordinator, Reto Wollenmann of Switzerland, for the useful and constructive discussions during the experts’ meeting as well as his report to this Conference.
As Australia stated at the Group of Experts meeting in April, IEDs are a threat to military forces and the broader civilian population in those countries where these weapons are indiscriminately deployed. Through terrorist bombings in Bali and Jakarta and in our operations in Afghanistan, Australia, like many other countries represented here, has been affected by IEDs. More than half of our fatalities and over two-thirds of our wounded battle casualties in theatres of operation are from IEDs. We are investing in the development of effective countermeasures to these weapons and their deployment.
There is a great deal of work being conducted in military and police forces to defeat the IED problem and to protect military and civilian personnel from their effects.
Aside from the obvious operational threat of IEDs, the continuing proliferation of their use also manifests itself in a range of strategic issues. The strategic influence of IEDs can be palpable and direct.
Controls need to limit access by non-state actors to military munitions and explosive remnants of war. This could be achieved by States enhancing their stockpile security, tightening export controls and promoting universal acceptance of Protocol V to the CCW. Conversely, we must recognise that Amended Protocol II has only limited applicability to restrict the availability of commercial precursors.
In addressing IEDs, we must consider overlaps with other international instruments, and explore options in other inter-related instruments and fora, including in countering organised crime and tracking the movement of illicit funds.
Australia remains committed to furthering the work being conducted on this topic within the CCW and looks forward to hearing the thoughts of others on this important issue.