By Jamshed Baruah
GENEVA (IDN) – Sri Lanka has won kudos for a number of progressive measures taken during its presidency of the Ninth Meeting of States Parties (MSP) to the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) that addresses the humanitarian consequences and unacceptable harm caused to civilians by cluster munitions, through a categorical prohibition and a framework for action. The Convention observed its ninth anniversary on August 1, 2019.
In a statement, President of the Ninth Meeting of States Parties, Ambassador Aliyar Lebbe Abdul Azeez, Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, said that States Parties have destroyed over 95 percent of their cluster munition stockpiles, “leaving only five States Parties with stockpile destruction obligations”.
Hundreds of square kilometers of land have been cleared of cluster munition remnants and concerted efforts have helped improve the lives of victims, he added. This is reason to be “proud of these achievements made within a short time and which establish it as one of the more successful disarmament treaties today”.
But the achievements “must not be cause for complacency as cluster munitions continue to pose a significant threat to particularly civilians in certain parts of the world”. Achieving a world free of cluster munitions depends on the strengthening of its norms which are also universally accepted and implemented, Ambassador Azeez said.
He urged States Parties to step up their “universalization efforts” to reach the target of 130 States Parties to the Convention when the Second Review Conference takes place in 2020. To date 120 states have committed to the goals of the Convention, of which 106 have become States Parties and 14 are Signatories.
The target of 130 States parties was agreed in the Dubrovnik Action Plan, emerging from the Convention’s First Review Conference in Croatia in September 2015. Adopted on May 30, 2008 in Dublin, Ireland and signed on December 3-4, 2008 in Oslo, Norway, the Convention entered into force on August 1, 2010.
The Ninth MSP was the fourth formal meeting of the Convention after the adoption of the Dubrovnik Action Plan in September 2015 by the First Review Conference in Croatia. The five-year (2015-2020) action plan provides a roadmap for States Parties to implement and universalize the Convention.
Sri Lanka’s election to the Presidency of the Ninth MSP was facilitated by the wide recognition among the international community, of its strengthened commitment to humanitarian disarmament, as manifested by its accession to the Convention on Cluster Munitions and the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention (APMBC) in 2017 and 2018 respectively.
Among the key objectives of the Convention, which Sri Lanka has advanced in its presidency, remain its universalization, risk reduction education, victim assistance and transparency reporting while progress on other thematic areas including clearance, stockpile destruction and retention, international cooperation and assistance, and victim assistance was also achieved.
Ambassador Azeez, as the President of the Ninth Meeting of States Parties, guided these efforts, supported by the Coordination Committee and the Implementation Support Unit of the Convention, as well as the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) and other stakeholders.
Photo: Ambassador A.L.A. Azeez (4th from right in front row), Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, with a few participants in the 9th MSP of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Geneva. Credit: The Convention.
Sri Lanka’s engagement with states parties and non- state parties contributed towards building consensus on several critical issues in the area of humanitarian disarmament. Following the universalization efforts undertaken, the Convention was further strengthened with the addition of two new states parties, Gambia and the Philippines, Geneva-based diplomats said.
States parties and observer states, in their national statements, appreciated Sri Lanka’s leadership to the convention processes immediately following its accession to the Convention in 2018, recalling Sri Lanka’s long-held tradition of steering disarmament processes in the multilateral fora. The initiative taken by Sri Lanka to facilitate the adoption of the 2018 UN General Assembly resolution 73/54 titled Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions also received appreciation.
The meeting commended Botswana and Switzerland on completion of their Article 3 obligations ahead of deadlines and expressed concern regarding evidence of use of cluster munitions in recent times in different parts of the world, while noting that the worldwide use of cluster munitions has declined considerably.
The meeting also approved the extension of deadlines for Bulgaria, and Germany and Lao PDR to complete their obligations under Articles 3 and 4 of the Convention respectively. Ambassador Felix Baumann, Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the Conference on Disarmament, presented to Ambassador Azeez the Certificate of Compliance issued by the Swiss authorities confirming the fulfillment by Switzerland of all the clearance and destruction requirements under the Convention.
The States Parties decided to designate Switzerland as the President of the Second Review Conference of the CCM to be held in 2020 and the United Kingdom as the President of the Tenth MSP Conference to be held in 2021.
The incoming Presidents joined other state parties and stakeholders in praising Sri Lanka’s leadership to the Meeting of the State Parties and the facilitation of the process of consultations that resulted in the adoption of the outcome document by consensus. [IDN-InDepthNews – 11 September 2019]
Top Photo: On 4 September 2019, Ambassador A.L.A. Azeez, Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva who presided over the 9th MSP, handed over the Presidency of the Convention on Cluster Munitions to Ambassador Félix Baumann, Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the Conference on Disarmament as the President of the Second Review Conference. Credit: The Convention on Cluster Munitions.
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