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News Review Special Edition

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International Developments, November 15, 2002 - February 1, 2003

CCW Meeting Embraces Talks on Explosive Remnants of War

In Geneva on December 13, the Third Meeting of States Parties to the Inhumane Weapons Convention - the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) Which May Be Deemed To Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects - agreed a negotiating mandate for its working group on Explosive Remnants of War (ERW). According to a UN Press Release, the 89 states parties "decided to begin negotiations on a legally binding instrument next year. The mandate provided contains, in one part, a negotiating mandate on post-conflict remedial measures, and, in another part, a mandate on further exploration of preventive measures."

The move was heralded by non-governmental organisations across the world. According to Peter Herby, speaking for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the mandate represents a "very important step towards the addressing the problem" of unexploded ordnance (UXO), and constitutes a powerful "political commitment on the part of states to work to reduce the impact which unexploded remnants of war are having in zones around the world in conflict and after conflict."

On December 18, Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a report highlighting one of the most injurious categories of UXO: cluster bombs. The study - Fatally Flawed: Cluster Bombs and Their Use in Afghanistan - estimated that the recent US campaign against the Taliban and Al Qaeda has left upwards of 12,000 undetonated cluster bombs across the country, often in or near populated areas. According to the report's author, Bonnie Docherty (December 18): "As war looms in Iraq, the United States should learn from the lessons of its Afghanistan air war. It should not use cluster bombs at all until the dud rate has been brought way down. At the very least, it should never use cluster bombs near inhabited towns and villages."

Cluster bombs spread large numbers of 'bomblets' over their target area. According to HRW, US forces dropped 1,228 cluster bombs in Afghanistan, containing 248,056 bomblets.

Related material on Acronym website:

Reports: States parties to Conventional Weapons Convention conclude Third Meeting - work approved for 2003, UN Press Release DC/2850, December 13; Govts aim for accord on explosive remnants of war, Inter Press Service, December 13; US cluster bombs killed civilians in Afghanistan, Human Rights Watch Press Release, December 18.

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© 2002 The Acronym Institute.