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New protocol on explosive war debris


New protocol on explosive war debris

Disarmament and Arms Control Minister, Marian Hobbs, has welcomed a new agreement in Geneva on reducing the humanitarian risk of explosive remnants of war (ERW), such as cluster bombs.

"This is a very encouraging achievement," the minister said. "It shows us that the multilateral treaty system can still deliver positive progress on disarmament issues. New Zealand has been leading in some areas of this work."

The new protocol adopted by the annual meeting of member states to the treaty limiting the use of inhumane weapons requires signatories to clear ERW in territory they control after a conflict; help remove ERW they have left behind; record information on the use of bombs to help ERW clearance; and warn civilians of the dangers of ERW.

"Of concern to me is the devastating impact that ERW, especially cluster bombs, have on civilians," Marian Hobbs said. "New Zealand and other partners have been working hard as volunteers in countries like Cambodia, Laos, Iraq and Afghanistan to clear ERW and keep them out of the reach of innocent civilians. At last we have a protocol that obliges states, including the users of the bombs, to clean up the mess after a conflict."

The protocol is the fifth under the inhumane weapons treaty. The other four protocols cover blinding laser weapons, landmines, incendiary weapons and weapons using fragments undetectable by x-ray. The new protocol will come into legal force once 20 states have formally accepted it.

The Geneva meeting also agreed that the members of the inhumane weapons treaty should give further consideration to the risks to civilians posed by anti-vehicle mines (which, unlike anti-personnel mines, are not banned) and continue their investigation into additional measures to deal with bombs such as cluster bombs.

"The consequences of using cluster bombs and anti-vehicle mines trouble me greatly," Marian Hobbs said. "The success with the ERW protocol makes me optimistic that we might be able to achieve more progress on anti-vehicle mines and cluster bombs through the ongoing process in Geneva.

"We must continue to reduce the number of civilian injuries and deaths caused by these weapons."

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