Disarmament Insight


Wednesday, 3 September 2008

New Cold War? Not at the CCW.

"We can support what has been said by the US." Those words constituted the entirety of the Russian delegation's comment to the Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) meeting of the UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) on Tuesday, the fourth round of such talks this year. Refreshingly brief when one considers a lengthy and inconclusive war of words in the GGE meeting on Monday between Georgia and Russia concerning use of weapons in the recent conflict.

That comment prompted one observer to mutter under his breath, "So much for the new cold war." The Russian comment came after the United States stated that the destruction of stockpiles of prohibited cluster munitions wasn't really necessary. Just lock them up and there will be no worries. This presumed, of course, that there would be such a prohibition - just minutes later, an Indian representative prefaced his comments by explicitly presuming that there would not be any prohibitions, just "regulation." Spending money to destroy prohibited cluster munitions would be wasteful in the eyes of the US - money that could be spent so much more wisely in building better cluster bombs. The day before both India and Pakistan had expressed their concerns about the costs of technical improvements and the economic status of states parties.

How to unite the world's major military powers? Raise the shocking specter of destroying defective armaments. A side benefit will then be heightened concern about responsible defense spending.

This is a guest post by Virgil Wiebe. Virgil is an Associate Professor of Law at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota, and a Visiting Research Fellow at UNIDIR.