Wednesday, May 17, 2006

20th ratification of the Protocol on Explosive Remnants of War

I am a little late with this post (seeing my sporadic blogging these weeks you might guess what my time schedule looks like), but I wanted to comment on the 20th ratification of the Protocol on Explosive Remnants of War (Protocol V to the 1980 Convention) of 28 November 2003.

With this ratification made on May 12th the protocol, which was concluded by 91 states parties to the Conventional Weapons Convention in 2003, reached its quorum and will enter into force in 6 month from that date.

The main problem addressed by the Protocol is that, while there has been major progress in reducing the threat by anti-personal mines, which are also addressed by this protocol, unexploded and abandoned ordnance pose a grave threat that was not an issue in existing legal instruments. According to various sources, the numbers of civilians killed or injured by those forms of explosive remnants of war may come close to the numbers of mine victims (see this Report on Explosive Remnants of War).

The protocol requires the parties to an armed conflict to inter alia clear all unexploded and abandoned ordnance that threatens civilians, peacekeepers and aid workers after the fighting has ended. In detail it obliges the parties to:

- Art. 4: Record information on explosive remnants used or abandoned by their armed forces and share that information with those involved in clearance activities.

- Art. 5 / Art. 6: Take all feasible precautions to protect civilians and humanitarian missions from the effects of remnants of war, including marking and fencing off dangerous areas.

- Art. 3: Survey, mark and clear explosive remnants of war in areas under their control after the conflict.

- Art. 7 / Art. 8: Provide technical and financial assistance for the removal of remnants left by their armed forces in areas not under their control.

What seems interesting to me, in regard to the further development on the ratification status of the protocol, is that normally the problem of weapons control is to balance its humanitarian motives with the military necessity that often suggests the use of the weapons in question.
As I don’t see any military necessity of retaining the remnants of war, I don’t think there is any military interest that prevents states from ratifying the protocol.

Hopefully many states see this as I do and will ratify the protocol as soon as possible; and more important implement it.
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