[Disarmament] CCW/Meeting of the High Contracting Parties
Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons
2010 Meeting of High Contracting Parties
Building on the statement made on behalf of the European Union earlier this morning, I would like to congratulate you on the assumption of your important post and assure you of my delegation’s full support in the upcoming days.
Austria attaches utmost importance to disarmament and the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. Since we last met in November 2009, many important developments have taken place, including the Cartagena Summit on a Mine-Free World, the entry into force of the Convention on Cluster Munitions and its First Meeting of States Parties in Lao PDR earlier this month. Austria was among the first States to outlaw cluster munitions on a national basis and to ratify the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Today, in addition, I can furthermore proudly announce the completion of Austria’s stockpile destruction and that Austria is again free of cluster munitions.
As we pursued the implementation of the CCW, in particular its Protocol V and Amended Protocol II, the CCW community grew in size and my delegation would like to welcome those High Contracting Parties who recently joined us in our endeavours. Simultaneously, the overall awareness of the humanitarian impact of certain conventional weapons has steadily risen. While at the last CCW Review Conference in 2006, many States still considered cluster munitions a legitimate weapon, there is today a much more widely shared understanding of its indiscriminate effects and unacceptability.
Unfortunately, these positive trends did not yet translate into tangible progress in our negotiations on cluster munitions. We thank Mr. Jesus Domingo for his relentless effort and for the dynamism he has put forward in his function as chairman of this year’s Group of Governmental Experts and for his presentation this morning. Likewise, I would like to extend my delegation’s gratitude to his Friends, who are also our friends, for guiding our debate in such an able and professional manner.
It is regrettable that despite our continued efforts, the Group was not able to agree on a draft, which offers a meaningful solution to the humanitarian challenges posed by cluster munitions. In fact, my delegation sees an adverse trend, as proposals threaten to legitimize and perpetuate harm through continued use of cluster munitions.
As we are about to discuss the termination or prolongation of the mandate of the Group of Governmental Experts, allow me to reiterate our position, as already expressed this September. My delegation sees a real value in maintaining our dialogue on clustermunitions in the CCW, but we do wonder if our Group of Governmental Experts shouldpursue its efforts in the manner. At last year’s meeting, we mandated the Group “to conclude its negotiations as rapidly as possible”. Today, we consider ourselves even further removed from this goal as our shared concern about the humanitarian impact of cluster munitions did not result in a common approach. In fact, our extensive discussions over the past four years have cast further in doubt the probability of finding a mutually acceptable solution, a solution which has a humanitarian added-value.
Like other delegations, we are therefore looking forward to constructively discussing the different options, such as the suspension of our negotiations in order to enable more reflection or an adaptation of GGE-mandate, in order to provide a stronger substantive focus. The proposal made by Germany merits our support.
In the absence of an agreement in the CCW, we call upon all High Contracting States to consider the adoption of unilateral measures, such as a moratorium on the use, production and transfer of cluster munitions.
Mr President, in concluding, let me thank you as well as the newly established Implementation Support Unit for your excellent work and let me assure you of my delegation’s full support for finding a meaningful way forward.