CCW Review Conference Adopts New Measure

Article excerpt

MEETING DECEMBER 11-21 in Geneva, states-parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) extended the accord's provisions controlling and banning weapons deemed excessively injurious or indiscriminate to cover not only international conflicts but also intrastate warfare. But the 65 states-parties attending the treaty's second review conference opted to put off final decisions on four other proposals topping the meeting's agenda.

The extension of the accord's reach to internal conflicts, however, will be limited because only states-parties, which currently number 88, that ratify the move will be bound by it. Twenty states-- parties must ratify the extension before it can enter into force. Countries joining the CCW in the future will be presumed as agreeing to the accord's extension to internal conflicts unless they state differently when ratifying the convention.

Currently, just one of the CCW's four protocols-the amended protocol on mines, booby traps, and other devices-applies to intemal conflicts. The protocols on incendiary weapons, blinding laser weapons, and nondetectable-fragment weapons do not. If future protocols are negotiated and added, states-parties noted they could be worded to accept, modify, or exclude the treaty's applicability to internal conflicts.

States-parties did not reach the required consensus at the review conference to approve a U.S.-Danish proposal to add a new protocol restricting the use of anti-vehicle mines. A few countries, particularly China, expressed reservations about the proposal. Chinese Ambassador Sha Zukang told the conference on December 11 that Beijing sees anti-vehicle mines as "crucial and irreplaceable means of national defense" and that there is "no evidence" the use of such weapons "has led to serious humanitarian problems."

The U.S.-Danish proposal does not rule out the use of anti-vehicle mines, except for those that are nondetectable, but it requires that any anti-vehicle mines remotely delivered, such as by planes or artillery, have self-destruct and backup self-deactivation mechanisms. …