Inter-American problems and regional policy
Statement by Head of the Russian delegation, Director of the Foreign Ministry Department for Non-Proliferation and Arms Control Vladimir Yermakov at the meeting of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, item 7 of the agenda General Exchange of Views, Geneva, November 13, 2019
We would like to congratulate you on your appointment to this responsible position and wish you success in your work. You are welcome to rely on the support of the Russian delegation.
The Russian Federation reaffirms its invariable commitment to the obligations under the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) and advocates full implementation of its provisions. We urge all participants to make better use of the convention’s unique disarmament parameters that ensure, through consensus, a balance between humanitarian concerns and lawful national security interests. It is especially important to maintain this balance against the backdrop of mounting unlawful attempts by individual countries and civil society representatives to use humanitarian concerns (often far-fetched) as an absolute imperative for introducing restrictions and bans on specific types of conventional arms.
Strengthening the CCW and its five protocols directly depends on the pace of universalisation. We welcome the countries that have become full members of the convention in 2019. We urge all states that have not yet signed it to join the CCW, including its protocols.
Russia is doing everything it can to implement the CCW. We are strictly committed to the current mechanism of ensuring compliance with the CCW and its protocols, including the decision on consolidation adopted at the convention’s Review Conference (RC) in 2011 (CCW-2011 RC) and reaffirmed at the CCW-2016 RC. Russia submits its annual reports on the convention, in a timely manner, as a whole, including the Additional Protocol II (AP-2) and Protocol V (P-5). The Russian interdepartmental delegation takes part in the annual events related to the CCW and its protocols.
A tangible contribution to the implementation of AP-2 and P-5 was made by the peacekeeping actions of the Russian Armed Forces on the removal of mines and all other explosive substances in Syria (Palmira, Aleppo and Deir ez-Zor), Laos and South Ossetia. This work is carried out on a high professional foundation and despite the risks to our military and civilian personnel. Updated information was submitted at the AP-2 and P-5 conferences.
We reaffirm our willingness to exchange experience and the know-how acquired during humanitarian mine lifting and the neutralisation of self-made explosive devices. We are open to cooperation with all interested countries in this area, in part, at the International Anti-Mine Centre of the Russian Armed Forces. We invite all of you to attend the centre-organised International Mine Lifting Conference that will take place in Moscow on May 18-21, 2020.
The conference for participating states is a good opportunity to exchange views and coordinate potential joint action on a broad range of items on the CCW agenda.
We believe that at this point the main humanitarian threat emanates from improvised bombs. We favour a review of this issue in the AP-2 framework, in part, by coordinating efforts with the authors of other international initiatives and approaches, as is required by the relevant UN General Assembly and Security Council resolutions. We assume that the work on improvised explosives within the CCW framework must correspond to the subject and goals of the convention.
In this context, we reaffirm our reserved attitude to the resumption of independent expert work on land mines as distinct from anti-personnel mines. These mines are a lawful means of defence and any attempt to present them as a “special humanitarian threat” are divorced from reality. This is confirmed by yesterday’s discussion of the said issue at the conference of AP-2 participants. When the final report was compiled consensus was reached only by stating that the participants were divided on the expediency of discussing anti-personnel mines in the context of the CCW and the AP-2. We are convinced that the potential humanitarian risks related to these mines should be resolved according to the existing norms of international humanitarian law, including AP-2.
Appeals by individual participants and a number of NGOs to revise the provisions of Protocol III are far-fetched and counterproductive. They do not help consolidate the convention. We deem it necessary to concentrate on more urgent issues – first and foremost, on the honest and more clear-cut implementation of the protocol’s provisions.
We confirm our willingness to continue discussing issues linked with lethal autonomous arms systems in the framework of the relevant group of CCW government experts, which is an optimal venue for this. Considering the results of the group’s work in 2018-2019 (two meaningful reports with 11 guided principles were passed by consensus), we do not see any grounds for revising this mandate and agenda that were approved by the CCW Fifth Review Conference in 2016. We believe the current norms of international law, including humanitarian law fully apply to lethal autonomous arms systems and do not need to be adapted to them.
We consider the appeals to elaborate additional standards and independent expert work in the CCW insolvent as regards the use of explosives in densely populated areas. All that is necessary is to honestly abide by the already existing regulations, primarily the 1977 Additional Protocol I to the 1949 Geneva conventions.
Russia is concerned about the funding of CCW activities. We urge all participants to fulfil their financial commitments under the convention and to pay the annual fees on time and in full. Mr Chairman, we welcome your efforts to settle this problem. On the whole, we support the idea of the participants establishing a fund of floating assets on a voluntary basis provided it is primarily used to support the contracts of the employees of the Implementation Support Group.
Thank you for your attention.