12 December 2001


NEW YORK, 11 December (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the message of Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the Second Review Conference of States Parties to the Convention on Prohibition or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons (Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons), delivered by Jayantha Dhanapala, Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, in Geneva on 11 December:

Since the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons was signed in 1980, enormous changes have occurred in the world’s geopolitical and security structures. The cold war has ended, replaced with a still-evolving global framework. New kinds of conflicts have emerged. And most recently, with terrorist attacks on the United States, the international community has been confronted with terrible new security challenges.

Throughout this period, and with all these changes, the Convention has continued to demonstrate its importance. The humanitarian principles embodied by the Convention are eternal, unaffected by technological changes, strategic realignments, or new ways of waging war. And yet, the Convention is a living instrument that can be adjusted and updated to keep abreast of new developments.

I am pleased that the States parties to the Convention are doing just that, and are considering an impressive range of proposals. With internal conflicts now claiming many more casualties than wars between States, and with small calibre weapons and explosive remnants of war continuing to cause avoidable deaths, injury and hardship, an expansion of the scope of the Convention to cover these issues is clearly warranted.

We must also bear in mind the death and devastation caused every year by mines. Like the explosive remnant of war, the destructive power of mines is not limited to the violent explosions that kill and maim. Mines also kill quietly, by rendering precious land unfit for agriculture or settlement, thereby hampering a country’s economic and social development. The Convention's Amended Protocol II has an important role to play in addressing this issue, and I call on those countries that have not yet signed or ratified this instrument to do so without delay, joining the States parties that met yesterday in an effort to promote universal adherence to its provisions.

The Convention saves lives and reduces suffering while protecting the security interests of the States parties, and does not impose large burdens, financial or otherwise, on its members. It is unfortunate that there are not more than 88 States parties. I urge you to consider practical steps that could be taken to encourage more accessions in the near future. And I strongly encourage you to use this second review conference -- a milestone in the life of this instrument -- to ensure that the Convention remains strong, healthy and effective as it enters its third decade of operation.

* *** *