Geneva, 19 - 22 June 2007Mr Chairman,
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.
The Candidate Countries Croatia* and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia as well as the Republic of Moldova align themselves with this declaration.
Allow me first, Mr Chairman, to welcome you to the chair of this meeting and to assure you of the full support and co-operation of the European Union.
The European Union fully shares the objectives of the CCW. It views the CCW’s prohibitions and restrictions as reflecting minimum standards applicable in all armed conflicts. Therefore we call upon all States that have not yet done so, without delay to ratify or accede to the CCW and its Protocols, including the new Protocol V on Explosive Remnants of War.
The European Union fully supports the Plan of Action on Universalisation of the CCW adopted by the Third Review Conference last November, and has taken concrete action accordingly:
Between February and April 2007, the European Union carried out demarches in the 91 states that have not yet ratified or acceded to the CCW, with the aim of convincing them to sign and ratify the CCW Convention and its five Protocols. At the same time, the European Union offered to provide adequate advice and assistance if so requested.
The outcome was quite encouraging: 14 states stated that they had initiated an adherence process while another 15 states said that they were considering to do so. 12 states said they shared the principles of the CCW Convention and its Protocols, even though they were not in a position to adhere to the CCW for the time being.
In the light of the above, the European Union decided to further support the universalisation of the CCW by establishing a Joint Action with a focus on regional aspects affecting adherence to and implementation of the CCW. As part of that Joint Action, the EU will organise, in cooperation with the United Nations, the ICRC and others, nine meetings, including seven regional seminars, with the aim of increasing the membership and improving the implementation of the CCW on a global level.
In the context of this Joint Action, the EU will also provide a financial contribution of 250.000 Euro to the CCW Sponsorship Programme adopted at the 3rd Review Conference of States Parties to the CCW.
The European Union is deeply concerned about the humanitarian concerns caused by cluster munitions which have become a priority issue in the CCW’s current work. We are confident that this GGE has the potential to produce substantial progress on this crucial issue. We support your Provisional Agenda and your Programme of Work which provides for in-depth discussions on the humanitarian, military, technical and legal aspects of cluster munitions.
Considering countless urgent calls for action on cluster munitions made by the United Nations Secretary General, the International Committee of the Red Cross, a large number of states and many prominent representatives of civil society in various fora such as the CCW Review Conference, the Conferences in Oslo and Lima, and the ICRC expert meeting in Montreux, the European Union is convinced that this matter is to be dealt with urgently and effectively. The current discussions should pave the way for negotiations.
With this in mind, the European Union hereby submits a proposal for a negotiating mandate on cluster munitions to be recommended by this GGE for adoption by the Meeting of the High Contracting Parties to the CCW in November 2007. The full text of this proposal has been published and circulated as Working Paper CCW/GGE/2007/WP.3 and is also attached to the printed version of my Statement.
The key provision of our proposal is for the Conference of CCW states parties in November 2007 “to establish a Group of Governmental Experts with a schedule of no less than three meetings to negotiate a legally-binding instrument that addresses the humanitarian concerns of cluster munitions in all their aspects by the end of 2008.”
The European Union submits this proposal with the aim of concluding a legally binding instrument that prohibits the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm to civilians and includes provisions on co-operation and assistance.
To conclude, Mr Chairman, let me assure you that the European Union is looking forward for this GGE to produce substantive results both on the issues on this week’s agenda and on the way ahead, thus setting a sound basis for negotiations on an international instrument on cluster munitions within a clear ambitious time-frame. In this context, we welcome the fact that several concrete draft texts for future negotiations have already been put on the table.
They should facilitate our urgent common task of strengthening humanitarian law in the crucial field of cluster munitions.
Thank you, Mr Chairman.
* Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.