While there were two international processes underway, there was hope among some states participating in both that the CCW, even if less ambitious than the CCM, would at least capture these countries in some sort of humanitarian standard on cluster munitions that goes beyond the general rules of international humanitarian law (IHL). That is, a CCW agreement would make them at least part of the solution rather than the problem, even if it is not as good as joining the CCM.
But as this blog noted last week, “effectively” is a very open term. Allowable would be submunitions with (i) a self destruct mechanism (like the discredited M85); OR (ii) a self-neutralization mechanism OR (iii) a self-deactivating mechanism OR (iv) two or more fuzing features (like the deadly U.S. manufactured BLU-97) OR (v) “any other mechanism or design” (again, not defined in any way).
Each explosive submunition [is designed to detect and engage a single target object and] contains a[n electronic] self-destruct mechanism and either an independent self-neutralization or [electronic] self-deactivation [feature] [mechanism] which effectively ensures that the unexploded submunitions no longer function as explosive submunitions
(i) Each munition contains fewer than ten explosive submunitions;
(ii) Each explosive submunition weighs more than four kilograms;
(iii) Each explosive submunition is designed to detect and engage a single target object;
(iv) Each explosive submunition is equipped with an electronic self-destruction
(v) Each explosive submunition is equipped with an electronic
One interesting area of agreement between states usually on opposing sides of the issue was hearing Germany, Canada and Korea call for an immediate transfer ban on cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm to civilians – something mooted on this blog in July. Also, some discussion was had last week about how to keep cluster munitions, whether prohibited or not, out of the hands of non-state actors. This is certainly not a bad idea in view of the reported use by Hezbollah of cluster munitions in the 2006 war with Israel.
- Outcome 1: a repeat performance of the CCW’s Anti-Vehicle Mine negotiations earlier this decade – a failure to reach consensus on even the most fundamental of issues, such as the approach to defining the object of regulation, let alone the more detailed provisions on what should be prohibited or not under the Protocol.
- Outcome 2: a repeat performance of CCW Protocol II on mines – an agreement for the sake of an agreement that leaves observers scratching their heads in vague confusion and States Parties with few actual constraints on behaviour.
- Outcome 3: a protocol that contains clear provisions on those cluster munitions that are most problematic in humanitarian terms, such as a complete and immediate prohibition on their use, production and transfer, coupled with clear restrictions on other cluster munitions that measurably constrain the behaviour of those states that feel, as yet, unable to join the CCM.
Virgil Wiebe, Maya Brehm & John Borrie
Photo credit: “Day 126: No Direction Home” by Berserker on Flickr.