15 August 2005

Group of Governmental Experts of States Parties to Conventional Weapons Convention Concludes Eleventh Session

(Reissued as received.)

GENEVA, 12 August (UN Information Service) -- The eleventh session of the Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) of the States Parties to the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects (CCW) concluded today at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

The session of the Group was chaired by Ambassador Gordan Markotiæ of Croatia as Chairperson-designate of the Meeting of the States Parties, to be held in Geneva from 24 to 25 November 2005.  Two Coordinators chaired the work of the two respective GGE working groups:  Ambassador Jayant Prasad of India on Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) and Ambassador Markku Reimaa of Finland on Mines Other than Anti-Personnel Mines (MOTAPM).

In November 2004, the States parties to the Convention reached agreement on mandates for the continuation of the work of the Group in 2005 on the issues of ERW, and MOTAPM, as well as on possible options to promote compliance with the Convention and its annexed Protocols and on the preparation of the Third Review Conference of the States parties to the Convention.

On the issue of ERW the Group held three meetings.  It also held one meeting of military and technical experts under the chairpersonship of Ms. Vera Bohle of the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining. It considered, including through participation of legal experts, the implementation of existing principles of International Humanitarian Law and further studied, on an open-ended basis with an emphasis on meetings of military and technical experts, possible preventive measures aimed at improving the design of certain specific types of munitions, including sub-munitions, with a view to minimizing the humanitarian risk of these munitions becoming explosive remnants of war.  Exchange of information, in particular on the applicability and the national implementation of International Humanitarian Law principles, was part of the Group's work.

On the issue of MOTAPM, the Group held seven meetings.  It also held two meetings of military experts chaired by Maj. Gen. Ahti Vartiainen of Finland.  It considered proposals on MOTAPM put forward since the establishment of the Group, but specifically focused on an updated version of a discussion paper prepared by the Coordinator.  The Group considered topics such as detectability, the active life of MOTAPM, measures to prevent unauthorized use of MOTAPM, fuse design and sensors, protection of civilians, warning and mine-risk education, transfers, transparency and other confidence-building measures, cooperation and assistance -- with the aim of elaborating appropriate recommendations on MOTAPM for submission to the next meeting of the States Parties.

The Group also held one meeting on the issue of possible options for promoting compliance with the Convention and its annexed Protocols, chaired by Ambassador Markotiæ, at which it considered a discussion paper, presented by the Chairperson-designate, on the establishment of an effective and efficient compliance mechanism.

One meeting of the Group was dedicated to the preparation of the Third Review Conference of the States Parties to the Convention.

The Group will hold its twelfth session from 14 to 22 November 2005, back-to-back with the Seventh Annual Conference of the States Parties to Amended Protocol II and the Meeting of the States Parties to the Convention thereafter.

The Convention, also known as the Inhumane Weapons Convention, was concluded on 10 October 1980, and entered into force on 2 December 1983.  The Convention consists of a framework instrument and five individual protocols that regulate specific types of weapons, which are considered to be indiscriminate, to cause unnecessary or unjustifiable suffering or to have other humanitarian consequences.  Currently 99 States are party to the Convention with a further seven having signed but not yet ratified.  Four of the Protocols, annexed to the Convention are in force, namely:  Protocol I on Non-Detectable Fragments; Protocol II on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Mines, Booby Traps and Other Devices, as amended on 3 May 1996; Protocol III on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Incendiary Weapons; and Protocol IV on Blinding Laser Weapons.  The most recent of the Protocols annexed to the Convention, Protocol V on Explosive Remnants of War, was adopted on 28 November 2003 by the Meeting of the States Parties to the Convention.  The Protocol is intended to eradicate the daily threat that such legacies of wars pose to populations in need for development and to humanitarian aid workers operating in the field to help them.  Since its adoption, 11 States have, thus far, notified the UN Secretary-General, as depositary of the Convention, of their consent to be bound by Protocol V.

The States Parties agreed to expand the scope of the Convention to also cover internal armed conflicts, as well as armed conflicts of an international nature.  This amendment to the Convention, adopted at the Second Review Conference in 2001, has already entered into force on 18 May 2004 and some 43 States Parties have now ratified the amendment and have submitted their instruments of ratification to the depositary.

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