Cluster Munition Coalition statement to the Third session of the Group of Governmental
Experts on Cluster Munitions of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons
Monday 7 July 2008, Geneva, Switzerland
Thank you Mr Chairman,
The CMC exists to promote the protection of civilians from the effects of cluster munitions. We
pursued this goal in the CCW at every possible opportunity from our establishment in 2003
through to the Third Review Conference in 2006 and subsequently. Since the successful
negotiation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions last May, we now have an effective and
credible tool to achieve this goal of protecting civilians from cluster munitions. Through this treaty
the majority of the world’s states have codified the stigma against these weapons placing them in
the realm of other banned weapons such as antipersonnel mines, biological and chemical
weapons. We simply do not accept that it could be legal or legitimate to use cluster munitions in
the future. With 111 states adopting the treaty, including the majority of producers, stockpilers
and past user countries we are well on the way to a world without cluster munitions.
The CMC believes that the CCW has played and could still play an important part in the
protection of civilians from the effects of cluster munitions. For many years the CCW provided a
useful forum for governments and organisations to meet together and discuss the issue of cluster
munitions, even if the issue was never quite squarely on the agenda as it is now. The CCW
provided a mechanism for identifying cluster munitions as an issue that required urgent and
comprehensive attention and action. This is clearly a valuable characteristic of the CCW.
However as a forum for actually providing ambitious and urgent international responses to
humanitarian problems the CCW has on more than one occasion fallen short and this is why
states have chosen to embark on the Ottawa and Oslo Processes to ban antipersonnel
landmines and cluster munitions respectively outside the CCW. This does not mean the CCW
has no value, indeed its existing protocols should be respected and we believe it can continue to
provide a forum for identifying problems and beginning, perhaps even concluding, international
deliberations on them. It could even provide some complementary work on cluster munitions.
The focus for the CMC in the period ahead will be to ensure as many states as possible sign the
CCM in Oslo in December. Once in force, the CCM will be a groundbreaking new international
treaty with far reaching prohibitions and positive obligations. It is also a carefully constructed
document that has balanced the interests of those who negotiated it without compromising its
humanitarian purpose. The treaty will provide practical enhancement to civilian protection and will
set new standards for state practice on victim assistance and clearance while building a global
norm against the use production and transfer of cluster munitions.
We understand and have heard again this morning that a limited number of states will not be
signing the CCM. Many of these states also belong to the dwindling group of states that remain
outside the Mine Ban Treaty. We believe the first task for these states should be to re-evaluate
the actual necessity for these two weapons systems and realistically consider what value they
might have against the humanitarian impact they clearly do have.
Meanwhile, what could constitute “complementary work” on cluster munitions? The CMC would
support all genuine efforts whether national, regional or international to eliminate cluster
munitions and protect civilians from their effects. Obviously though these efforts must move in the
same direction as the CCM (i.e. a comprehensive prohibition) and we would see these efforts as
stepping-stones on the path to ultimate universalisation of the CCM rather than an alternative to
this treaty. A comprehensive transfer ban would be one such step either at the national level or
here at the CCW.
However what states should not do is use the CCW to rewrite the existing laws of IHL in a way
that undermines them. Indiscriminate attacks are already prohibited under customary
international law. Restating this rule in relation to cluster munitions only risks undermining its
universal application. Likewise, a best practices document that reads as a blueprint for how to
use cluster munitions would represent the opposite direction of the CCM and we could not
support this. Indeed, as a number of states have said this morning, any provision that legitimises
the use of cluster munitions would be entirely inappropriate in our view. In particular discussions
here should not be about allowing certain types of cluster munitions and prohibiting others. The
strength of the treat negotiated in Dublin is that it prohibits cluster munitions as a category of
weapons and ensures that it is the effects of cluster munitions that matter, not simply their
In short the only serious, credible and comprehensive response to the cluster munition problem is
the CCM and all states with serious concerns on this issue should join the 111 states that
adopted it in Dublin and sign the treaty in Oslo.
Making this happen will be the focus of our work and the focus no doubt for many of the countries
here. We do not have the resources to devote to a replay of the past 18 months of discussions in
the Oslo Process, but we are happy to provide materials produced in support of the negotiations
on the CCM if they can be of use to delegations here. We will also make available a paper
outlining our analysis of the CCM, which may be useful for those delegations who have questions
about this instrument. We will of course continue to press governments working on cluster
munitions to disclose information about their stockpiles, past use, testing and to share their
understanding of the military necessity of these weapons which in our view has never been
There is no doubt that for as long as countries are discussing the issue of cluster munitions here
at the CCW, especially with the majority of stockpilers, producers and former users having agreed
comprehensively to ban this category of weapons, then the already heavy stigma against cluster
munitions will continue to broaden, deepen and intensify, making their future use unconscionable
in any circumstances.
Thank you Mr Chairman.