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The Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons

 

The Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons

The Convention on Certain conventional Weapons (CCW), adopted in 1980 and entered into force in 1983, and in line with the principles of International Humanitarian Law, prohibits or limits the use of some conventional weapons that are considered to be particularly injurious or to have indiscriminate effects on civilian populations. It is made up of a framework Convention containing general provisions and, currently, five Protocols that prohibit or limit the use of the following classes of weapons:

Non-detectable fragments (Protocol I); Mines, booby-traps, other devices (Protocol II); Incendiary weapons (Protocol III);Blinding laser weapons (Protocol IV); Explosive remnants of war (Protocol V).

To date, 125 States are Party to the Convention (including all major powers) and 5 have signed it. The membership of the Protocols ranges from 96 (Prot. V) to 118 (Prot. I) States Parties.

An amended version of Protocol II, aiming to further limit the use of landmines, was adopted on 3 May 1996 and entered into force on 3 December 1998. Dissatisfaction with this result on the part of several States and civil society, which intended to codify the total ban of anti-personnel landmines, gave the initial impetus to the diplomatic process that led to the adoption of the 1997 Ottawa Treaty. The original Protocol II remains in force for those States Parties that have not ratified the Amended version.

The peculiar characteristic of the CCW, which is partly due to its structure, is represented by its flexibility – the memberships of the Protocols and of the framework convention don’t overlap – and by its constant adaptation to the political and technological changes in the use of the force. The original Treaty was applicable only in instances of international armed conflict, which involved only States. In light of the growing incidence of internal conflicts (e.g. civil or ethnic wars), in 2001 the CCW Members adopted an amendment to its art. I that broadened the scope of the Convention to instances of “non-international” armed conflict. The Amended Art. I of the Convention entered into force in May 2004.

From the point of view of institutional architecture, the ccw reflects its peculiar structure of varying memberships, which created a plurality of legal regimes that work in parallel. All ccw Members participate in the annual Conference of the High Contracting Parties and five-yearly Review Conferences, which are mainly tasked with assessing the implementation status of the ccw and its Protocols, consider the work of the Group of Government Experts (created in 2001) and agree its mandate, which can go from the discussion and analysis of a specific theme or class of weapons, to the negotiation of a new Protocol.

Amended Protocol II (APII) and Protocol V have specific institutional processes, which include annual conferences of the States Parties; APII also has the possibility to establish subsidiary bodies (such as groups of experts), while Protocol V can hold meetings of experts mandated to discuss specific issues relating to its implementation.

Since 2009 the issue of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), whose growing use, particularly by non-state actors, has engendered great concern in the international community, has been included in the agenda of the Group of Experts of APII. Discussions in this forum have allowed a fruitful exchange of information on IEDs incidents, their effects, and possible preventive measures. The Group has also been examining the possibility to apply, or the need to adjust, the CCW normative framework with a view to reducing the threat posed by IEDs.

Throughout t the years, the Group has developed guidelines, “best practices” and recommendations aimed at stemming the illicit trafficking or use of materials that could be used to build IEDs, which are regularly reviewed and updated. In April 20015, the GoE also adopted a voluntary questionnaire designed to facilitate international cooperation against this growing threat.

In November 2013, the Convention’s Group of Experts was tasked with addressing the issue of emerging technologies relating to Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS), the so-called “Killer robots”. The Group met in three sessions (once a year from 2014 to today) that facilitated a preliminary, in-depth analysis and exchange of views on four specific areas relating to LAWS: technical, ethical and sociological, legal, operational and military aspects. Most recently, in 2019, the Group agreed on 11 Guiding Principles to be used as a basis for its consensus recommendations in relation to the clarification, consideration anddevelopment of aspects of the normative and operational framework on emerging technologies in the area of LAWS. The GGE-LAWS will continue working for another two years, in 2020 and 2021.

 

The Italian participation in the Convention

For Italy, which ratified all the CCW Protocols and amendments (Art. 1 and APII), the Convention represents a unique forum whose inclusive membership (gathering diplomats, legal and military experts), added to the openness to the input of civil society and international institutions, allows addressing new or emerging issues linked to the use of force and to the promotion of International Humanitarian Law. For this reason, Italy is a convinced supporter of the process of universalization of the Convention and its Protocols, as well as of effective national implementation by the States Parties.

Italy is also engaged concretely through the delivery and financing of international assistance programmes that focus in particular on clearance of mines and other explosive remnants of war, including cluster munitions; stockpile destruction; and victim assistance. The humanitarian impacts and indiscriminate effects of mines and ERWs represents, indeed, a serious cause for Italian concern.

Finally, Italy supports the continued monitoring of developments in military research and technology, especially concerning the so-called “killer robots” – those weapons systems that are completely independent of human operators’ control. In particular, it underlines the need to keep international attention high on the humanitarian issues that could stem from the development of new robotic weapons systems able to make autonomous life-or-death decisions.

 

Main Statements

Meeting of the High Contracting Parties of the CCW (13-15 November 2019): General Debate (Amb. Gianfranco Incarnato)

21st Meeting of the States Parties, Amended Protocol II (12 November 2019): General Debate (Amb. Gianfranco Incarnato)

13th Meeting of the States Parties, Protocol V (11 November 2019): General Debate (Amb. Gianfranco Incarnato)

Group of Governmental Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (25-29 March 2019): Potential Military Applications; Human Element; Next Steps (Amb. Gianfranco Incarnato)

Meeting of the High Contracting Parties of the CCW (21-23 November 2018): General Debate; Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems; Emerging Issues; Other Issues (Mines other than anti-personnel mines - MOTAPM) (Amb. Gianfranco Incarnato)

20th Meeting of the States Parties, Amended Protocol II (20 November 2018): General Debate; Improvised Explosive Devices (Amb. Gianfranco Incarnato)

12th Meeting of the States Parties, Protocol V (19 November 2018): General Debate (Amb. Gianfranco Incarnato)

Meeting of Experts, Protocol V (12-13 June 2018): Victim assistance (Amb. Gianfranco Incarnato, 13 June)

Meeting of Experts, Amended Protocol II (11-12 June 2018): Improvised exposive devices (IEDs) (Amb. Gianfranco Incarnato, 11 June)

Group of Governmental Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (9-13 April 2018): General Debate; Characterization of LAWS; Next steps (Amb. Gianfranco Incarnato)

Meeting of the High Contracting Parties of the CCW (22-24 November 2017): General Debate (Amb. Vinicio Mati)

19th Meeting of the States Parties, Amended Protocol II (21 November 2017): General Debate (Dr. Palma D’Ambrosio); Improvised Explosive Devices (Dr. Palma D'Ambrosio)

11th Meeting of the States Parties, Protocol V (20 November 2017): General Debate (Dr. Palma D’Ambrosio)

Group of Governmental Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (13-17 November 2017): General Debate (Amb. Vinicio Mati); Next Steps (Amb. Vinicio Mati)

Fifth review Conference of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (12-16 December 2016): General Debate (Amb. Vinicio Mati, 12 December)

Preparatory Committee for the Fifth review Conference of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (31 August-2 September 2016): General Debate (Amb. Vinicio Mati, 31 August)

18th Meeting of the States Parties, Amended Protocol II (30 August 2016): General Debate (Dr. Palma D’Ambrosio)

10th Meeting of the States Parties, Protocol V (29 August 2016): General Debate (Dr. Palma D’Ambrosio)

Third meeting of the Group of Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (11-15 April 2016): General Debate (Amb. Vinicio Mati, 11 April); Definitions (Amb. Vinicio Mati, 12 April)

Meeting of Experts, Amended Protocol II (7-8 April 2016): Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), 7 April

Meeting of Experts, Protocol V (6-7 April 2016): International Cooperation and Assistance (7 April ); Victim Assistance (7 April)

Meeting of the High Contracting Parties of the CCW (12-13 November 2015): General Debate (Amb. Vinicio Mati, 12 November); Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (Amb. Vinicio Mati, 12 November)

17th Meeting of the States Parties, Amended Protocol II (11 November 2015): General Debate (Dr. Palma D’Ambrosio)

9th Meeting of the States Parties, Protocol V (9-10 November 2015): General Debate (Dr. Palma D’Ambrosio, 9 November); General Preventive Measures (Dr. Palma D’Ambrosio, 10 November)

Meeting of the High Contracting Parties of the CCW (13-14 November 2014): General Debate (Amb. Vinicio Mati, 13 November)

Second meeting of the Group of Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (13-16 May 2014): General Debate (Amb. Vinicio Mati, 13 May) 

Meeting of the High Contracting Parties of the CCW (14-15 November 2013): General Debate (Amb. Vinicio Mati, 14 November) 

 

Documents and Resources

Final Document of the 2017 Conference of the High Contracting Parties of the CCW

Final Document of the 5th Review Conference of the CCW (2016)

Convention on prohibitions or restrictions on the use of certain conventional weapons which may be deemed to be excessively injurious or to have indiscriminate effects

Protocol I on Non-Detectable Fragments

Original Protocol II on prohibitions or restrictions on the use of mines, Booby-traps and other devices

Amended Protocol II

Protocol III on prohibitions or restrictions on the use of incendiary weapons

Protocol IV on blinding laser weapons

Protocol V on explosive remnants of war

Amended article I of the Convention

United Nations Office in Geneva (UNOG): the CCW

International Committee of the Red Cross: War and Law

Arms Control Association: "The Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons at a Glance"

Reaching Critical Will


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