“I also want to thank Daryl Kimball and the Arms Control Association for allowing me to address all of you today and for being such effective advocates for sensible policies to stem the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and most importantly, reduce the risk of nuclear war.”

– Joseph Biden, Jr.
January 28, 2004
CCW Members Prepare for Review Conference

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States-parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) met April 2-6 in Geneva to prepare for the CCW's second review conference, scheduled to be held December 11-21. Delegations from the treaty's 84 states-parties reviewed proposals for strengthening or broadening the accord, which restricts the use of excessively injurious or indiscriminate weapons. The states-parties did not act on any of the proposals at this latest meeting but will hold a third preparatory committee meeting this September.

Opened for signature in 1981, the CCW was initially comprised of three different protocols limiting the use of certain conventional weapons: non-detectable fragmentation weapons; mines, booby-traps, and other devices; and incendiary weapons. At the first review conference, held in separate sessions in the fall of 1995 and the late spring of 1996, CCW states-parties approved a fourth protocol on blinding laser weapons and amended the protocol on mines to, among other things, increase the detectability of anti-personnel landmines (APLs) and require remotely delivered APLs to have self-destruct and self-deactivation features.

Currently, the United States is seeking to amend the mine protocol further to apply the detectability and self-destruct requirements of APLs to anti-vehicle mines, but some countries, most notably China and Pakistan, have expressed reluctance at amending the mine protocol again. As an alternative, the United States and Denmark proposed adding a new CCW protocol devoted to mines other than APLs, essentially anti-vehicle mines.

The United States has also proposed creating a voluntary compliance mechanism for the mine protocol that would allow states-parties to hold meetings and convene experts to discuss and investigate allegations of noncompliance. France, meanwhile, has advocated adoption of a compliance regime for the entire convention, though details remain unclear.

Other proposals discussed included extending the convention's restrictions from interstate conflicts to internal conflicts (the amended mine protocol already includes such language) and addressing small arms and unexploded ordinance left on the battlefield.