Status of ERW Instrument Remains Uncertain

Arms Control Today, September 2003 | Go to article overview

Status of ERW Instrument Remains Uncertain


NEWS BRIEFS

Diplomats negotiating a new agreement on cleaning up abandoned and unexploded munitions will not likely decide on whether it should be legally binding until the last days of the talks.

The negotiations are taking place within the framework of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), which regulates or bans the use of weapons judged to be indiscriminate or "excessively injurious." Comprising 90 states-parties, the CCW has four legally binding protocols addressing incendiary weapons; blinding lasers; nondetectable-fragment weapons; and mines, booby traps, and other devices.

In the current negotiations, the United States stands virtually alone in urging for a political outcome that is not legally binding. Although some countries have suggested they do not have a strong preference, they are seen as simply not wanting to disagree with Washington publicly at this time, according to Western diplomats.

Speaking at the latest round of talks June 16-27 in Geneva, Edward Cummings, head of the U.S. negotiating team, repeated a March statement that Washington has a "comprehensive objection to all language that implies a legal character to the instrument. …

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