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Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons
Sixth Conference for Protocol V on Explosive Remnants of War
General Exchange of Views
12 November 2012
On behalf of my delegation, we congratulate you on your election as President of this Conference and offer you our cooperation and support in guiding us to a successful conclusion.
Australia would like to thank the various Coordinators from Ukraine, Austria, India, France and Germany for their work this year on the various aspects of CCW Protocol V on Explosive Remnants of War.
Through their efforts we continue to build effective implementation of Protocol V. The discussions at the Meeting of Experts held in April and the Coordinators’ reports presented to this meeting demonstrate the value of this forum, which facilitates the exchange of experience and expertise between States in their efforts to implement the Protocol and strengthen compliance.
Australia is pleased to see that 80 States are now parties to Protocol V and particularly welcomes Lao PDR, South Africa and Turkmenistan who have recently joined Protocol V.
Australia welcomes the strong growth in membership of this Protocol over the past few years. However, we recognise that much work is needed to achieve its universalisation. Australia urges all CCW States Parties to join Protocol V.
Australia acknowledges that universal acceptance and effective implementation of Protocol V is one of the most valuable ways to minimise post-conflict humanitarian problems.
For our part over the last year, Australia has been actively working with the Pacific Islands and is encouraging each of these states to accede to this Protocol. We hosted a meeting on explosive remnants of war (ERW) for the Pacific Island nations in Brisbane in February 2012 to raise understanding of ERW in the Pacific, the risks associated and ways to combat those risks in the region. We recognise in particular Palau’s leadership in taking this discussion forward within the region and the Pacific Islands Forum.
In addition, Australia provided funding and technical expertise for the Palau-hosted Regional Meeting on the Implementation of the Pacific Islands Forum Regional Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) on 24-26 October this year. This meeting aimed to advance the regional UXO strategy, and mobilise and coordinate efforts to address the problems caused by WWII-era explosive remnants of war in the Pacific.
Protocol V represents a strong practical step forward in reducing the humanitarian risks and effects of all forms of ERW.
For Australia’s part, the Government has fully implemented the Protocol. The Australian Defence Force has in place relevant doctrine to implement the provisions of Protocol V. ADF operational guidance with regard to UXO is to proactively deal with all explosive hazards where possible, including ERW, in theatres of operations even before active hostilities have ceased.
Australia continues to work towards implementing the preventative measures in Part 3 of the Technical Annex to the Protocol. When procuring explosive ordnance, Australia endeavours to ensure measures are implemented during the life cycle of the explosive ordnance.
Australia continues to maintain a robust ordnance management regime. Samples of our ordnance stocks are inspected and tested regularly to ensure they continue to meet the internationally accepted performance specifications. This activity is critical for improving the reliability of munitions, and therefore minimising the occurrence of ERW.
Australia is equally committed to fulfilling its obligations under Protocol V in order to minimise the risks and effects of ERW, including those obligations in Article 8 of the Protocol on cooperation and assistance.
Australia’s commitment to action on ERW is long standing and recognises the significant impact that UXO has on communities, often for many years after hostilities have ceased. Australia’s $100 million Mine Action Strategy for 2010 to 2014 has assisted in reducing the humanitarian suffering and socio-economic impact of ERW, which includes landmines and cluster munitions.
We have delivered support for action on ERW to countries across the Asia-Pacific, and in the Middle East and Africa. We are currently supporting works in Cambodia, Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Lao PDR, Sri Lanka and Palau.
Clearing land contaminated by ERW is vital to removing the threat and the social and economic impacts on individuals and communities. Clearing ERW from affected areas allows individuals from local communities to farm land, travel to market, attend schools and visit health clinics without the fear of injury or death. Each of these activities enables individuals to participate more fully in the development of their communities.
Victim assistance is a key component of our mine action strategy. We support a number of centres in rehabilitating and reintegrating people with disabilities, including victims of ERW, into society. We also work in partnership with civil society to ensure that victims of UXO understand and exercise their rights to achieve greater inclusion in social and economic activities.
Protocol V provides the High Contracting Parties with a useful tool to help prevent the creation of ERW and address concerns arising from its existence in post-conflict situations.
Internationally we must all do more to eliminate the civilian suffering and impacts of explosive remnants of war, and Australia remains committed to working with others to achieve this goal.