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Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons
Amended Protocol II on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Mines, Booby Traps and Other Devices
Fifteenth Annual Conference of High Contracting Parties
13 November 2013
Mr President, I congratulate you on your election and assure you of Australia’s full cooperation in your work.
Australia notes that Amended Protocol II continues to advance humanitarian-related concerns in relation to anti-personnel landmines internationally. We recognise that Amended Protocol II complements the Mine Ban Convention, to which a large majority of States are party and which Australia also strongly supports.
Amended Protocol II’s banning of booby-traps, restrictions on anti-personnel landmines and provisions on marking and fencing have represented important developments in international humanitarian law and continue to assist markedly in reducing the potential for civilian harm by anti-personnel landmines. The adherence to Amended Protocol II of States that are users and producers of mines continues to help broaden the scope of these gains.
Australia has continued to implement its obligations under Amended Protocol II, as well as the Mine Ban Convention. Australia views both Amended Protocol II and the Mine Ban Convention as complementary and co-existing together into the future, to the benefit of civilians.
We are proud to note that Australia reached its commitment of providing $100 million to mine action assistance over 4 years in 2012 – two years ahead of schedule – and have continued to support high priority initiatives, bringing our total assistance to $123 million since 2010. This includes a number of successful clearances, victim assistance and mine risk education projects, primarily in the Asia-Pacific region.
Australia welcomes Kuwait and Zambia as new State Parties since the last Annual Conference, bringing the total number of States Parties to Amended Protocol II to 100.
We are pleased with such progress, but more remains to be done. Australia continues to encourage States not party to the CCW to join and implement the provisions of Amended Protocol II.
Australia continues to support efforts to revitalise and re-energise our work under Amended Protocol II.
Australia has been pleased to work as the Coordinator, with Switzerland, on Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) over the past two years and would welcome the opportunity to continue in this role. We would like to thank the valuable assistance of participating States for their contributions to these valuable discussions.
In this context, and in light of our role as the Coordinator on IEDs, Australia strongly supports continuing work on IEDs under Amended Protocol II in 2014 to further identify measures to minimise IED use in the future. We look forward to working closely with France when they take over from Switzerland as Co-Coordinator in 2014.
IEDs have caused injury and death to military personnel and civilians in many parts of the world for decades. Conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also all conflicts more broadly, have highlighted the indiscriminate use of IEDs. It is often civilians who bear the brunt of IED attacks.
Australia recognises that greater coordination and sharing of experience can help States more successfully combat the indiscriminate use of IEDs. We believe that Amended Protocol II remains a useful forum to promote discussion on how to improve information sharing on IEDs and their components, and to identify and develop best practices to minimise the spread of IEDs.
Australia welcomes the Coordinators’ report on IEDs and supports all of the recommendations, particularly in relation to developing best practices aimed at helping to address the threat of IEDs, consistent with the scope of Amended Protocol II, by exploring the possibility of an information exchange database, portal or platform as a tool for improving information sharing.
Australia remains willing to work with CCW APII States Parties to develop elements of a potential information sharing tool for consideration by experts next year. We believe that a demonstration of a potential tool at a future meeting could help States Parties to explore issues such as how to securely retain and share IED information.
As we all know, under international humanitarian law, the means and methods of warfare are not unlimited. The CCW and Amended Protocol II are an important part of that body of law, which seeks to raise standards of conduct, particularly conduct that would be considered permissible during military conflicts.
Australia will continue to support strengthening Amended Protocol II’s role in establishing, maintaining and reinforcing international standards and also promoting their universality.
I thank you, Mr President.