[Disarmament] CCW/Group of Governmental Experts
(Statement by Amb. Strohal, 17 April 2009)
Thank you for giving me the floor, Mr. Chairman, and at the outset allow me to commend you for your efforts over the past weeks and your able guidance under the often difficult circumstances. Our gratitude also goes to the Friends of the Chair. In particular, I would like to thank you for the revised version of the Consolidated Text on Cluster Munitions.
Austria fully aligns itself with the statement delivered by the Czech Presidency on behalf of the European Union. Allow me to add some more specific comments.
This Second Session of the 2009 Group of Governmental Experts has once again illustrated the broad range of view points present in this forum. Austria’s position on your previously submitted text is well known and has been repeatedly presented in the course of this week. We made concrete proposals regarding articles 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7 in the plenary as well as during informal meetings. Unfortunately, none of these proposals, which were also supported by a number of other delegations, are reflected in your new version of the Consolidated Text. To the contrary, we discovered new elements which seem problematic to us, such as further exclusions to the scope of application and definitions, which have not been clarified in the course of the discussions and could further weaken the text.
As we mentioned earlier this week, Austria’s goal is to negotiate a legally binding protocol that results in a factual difference and prevents future humanitarian harm caused by cluster munitions. While we acknowledge with appreciation your hard work over the past week, we believe that further substantive discussions are needed to clarify outstanding issues and to overcome the remaining differences. Austria still believes that, in order to prevent the tragic humanitarian consequences of cluster munitions, a Protocol VI should contain clear deadlines on destruction and clearance as well as an immediate and comprehensive ban on transfers. Austria would also like to emphasize once again the importance of a definition of cluster munitions victims, as in article 2 para 14 of your current text. Furthermore, we believe that the requirements listed in article 4 para a) and b) should constitute cumulative instead of alternative requirements.
We should not lose sight of the reason for our meeting this week. Our mandate is ”to address urgently the humanitarian impact of cluster munitions, while striking a balance between military and humanitarian considerations“ and not to legitimizethese atrocious weapons. We are looking forward to concrete discussions on all parts of your revised version of the Cluster Munitions Consolidated Text, including those parts which are currently not in italics but have been also contested by a number of delegations, including my own. We support your proposal to convene informal consultations later this year.
In concluding, Mr. Chairman, Austria would like to assure you its fullest support for your future endeavours. My delegation will continue to actively and constructively work for a meaningful future Protocol VI.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.