Australian Permanent Mission and Consulate-General
Geneva
Switzerland, Liechtenstein

Statement670

Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons

Amended Protocol II on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Mines, Booby
Traps and Other Devices

Sixteenth Annual Conference of High Contracting Parties

12 November 2014

Statement by the Australian Defence Force Counter-IED Task Force,
Commander, Brigadier John Shanahan


Background


Madam President, thank you for the opportunity to address this conference and it has been extremely interesting to hear a common theme of the need to share information to assist our collective efforts to defeat IEDs. In April last year, my predecessor, Brigadier Wayne Budd, made a commitment at the CCW to test the concept of creating a globally pooled source of official Improvised Explosive Device (IED) event data that would increase our collective understanding of the threat where it presented in the world and improve the Counter IED (CIED) community collaboration in a manner that will contribute to a tangible reduction in the number of incidents of IEDs. We initiated a trial program called AXON The Global IED Partnership.

Our objective was to test the feasibility of sharing such information in a global context and to identify how the global counter IED community could implement the program. Six months into the trial we have learnt a great deal and are convinced of the merits of implementing a cross jurisdictional international IED event information sharing regime to help us all better understand the IED threat and inform our collective decision making for counter IED strategies. So much so, that we have decided to continue the trial for a further six months until April 2015.

Why?

As you know Madam President, the continued proliferation of IEDs is truly a global problem. No one state or nation can tackle the problem in isolation – it requires a community approach to help stem their proliferation.

To recap, AXON is a secure web-based system that enables global IED event information capture and exchange between nations seeking to collaborate against the proliferation of IEDs.

• It is designed to facilitate discussion, collaboration and sharing of IED specific information between governments and agencies to improve our collective understanding of the threat posed by IEDs.
• AXON is hosted on a secure web portal that aims to become a global IED information library enabled by contributing nations who share basic IED event data.
• We believe shared information of this nature will assist developing and post conflict nations to enhance their domestic Counter IED responses.
• The system allows operators to search for information, view IED event data in a global context, and start conversations with Counter IED professionals in other countries or jurisdictions.
• A fully operational system has the potential to offer troop contributing countries (TCC) to UN peace keeping operations valuable life saving information about the localised IED threat to the deploying troops, the civilian population and the first responders. It would also have significant value for TCC in the preparation and training of troops prior to deployment. The system could also inform UN strategic deliberations and planning for peacekeeping operations.

The Trial

The trial commenced in April 2014 and was originally planned to conclude in November 2014 but has been extended until April 2015 to allow refinement of the system and support the growing list of new users / participants. There are currently 13 states or agencies registered as trial participants. Those countries and organisations are: the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS), INTERPOL, Australia, Canada, Chile, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, Republic of Korea, Sweden, and Thailand.

• The trial extension will provide an orderly period in which the AXON program can be transferred to a global agency that has the means and global presence to manage and coordinate the trial into a fully functional regime.
• The system’s mix of data mining, analytics and collaboration tools brings a unique combination of capabilities for use to the whole CIED community.
• The Australian Federal Police (AFP) which is a lead law enforcement participant has contributed re-classified domestic Australian IED data to the system. The Australian Defence Force also has declassified operational IED event data which is now on the system. Australia, by these examples, is encouraging other nations to review the way IED event information is classified and take the necessary steps to participate in the trial.
• UNMAS have provided excellent support by contributing data including from peacekeeping operations in Somalia.

The AXON trial has identified a number of requirements for a global CIED information-sharing database. They are:

• Availability and accessibility of information across developed & developing nations. There is great potential to help more nations vulnerable to IED attacks who are less well equipped than developed nations and the equitable sharing of information is key to this.
• establishing a global IED lexicon. A shared IED language is a necessary pillar to deeper international collaboration across nations and jurisdictions. This was a critical lesson the coalition learnt in Afghanistan.
• identifying the requirement for an agreed standard for information sharing. That is to institutionalise agreed norms for sharing officially derived IED event information.

Conclusion

On the subject of the deliberate use of explosive devices that kill and maim, we believe the counter IED community has much to gain through sharing our experiences with IEDs to inform our collective thinking and decision making. The establishment of a genuine global IED partnership will enable both the development of counter IED capabilities in countries where there is none and support UN deployments of peacekeeping and humanitarian missions in IED affected regions.

We have been watching with interest the efforts of the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to curb international tax evasion through the establishment of an international information-sharing regime. There are parallels with efforts underway - for example:

• Global Shield for tracking IED precursors across customs boundaries.
• World Health Organisation and the example they set in dealing with global pandemics.
• The global aviation industry approach to information sharing to ensure safety.

I believe that the next five months of the trial will further demonstrate its global utility. AXON has the potential to offer participants a fully functional system with data contributed from across the globe. It can assist UN member states with new insights into the true extent of the IED problem and most importantly provides a collaborative tool to help Counter IED practitioners at all levels inform their decision making and efforts.

We look forward to working with our current and future partners over the course of the next six months to further explore the relevance and feasibility of implementing a permanent information-sharing regime across the global CIED community. In April 2015 we plan to provide a summary update of our findings. Please contact us if you are interested to learn more about AXON.

Thank you for your time today. I look forward to answering any questions during the day.