(Geneva, 12 December 2002)
First of all, please allow me on behalf of the Chinese delegation to congratulate you on your assumption of the Chairmanship of this conference. I am convinced that with your diplomatic skills and wisdom, you will steer the conference to a success. My delegation will fully cooperate with you and contribute to the success of the conference.
Peace and development are the perpetual theme pursued by human beings. Maintaining peace and promoting development are the common aspiration of all peoples and the trend of the times. However, uncertainties affecting peace and development still exist, and human beings are still faced with severe challenges in maintaining international peace and security. For many years, people have never ceased their efforts to regulate and restrict the conduct of wars and armed conflicts, with a view to alleviating the sufferings and humanitarian concerns arising therefrom. The Convention on the Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May be Deemed to be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects (CCW), is exactly a significant effort by the international community to resolve the humanitarian problems caused by wars.
Since the Convention entered into force nineteen years ago, its states parties have increased from 20 at the initial stage to 90 by now, and its purposes and objectives have been universally recognized by the international community. As the universality of the Convention is improved, its effect and influence are also enhanced. While the overall international disarmament process is at a standstill, progress has been made in the Convention-related areas. The Convention has been enriched in content and has played a positive role in the fields of humanitarianism and conventional arms control. Such achievements should be attributed to the joint efforts by and cooperation among high contracting parties.
At the end of last year, the Second Review Conference of the States Parties to the CCW adopted the amended Article Ⅰ of the Convention, which extended the scope of application of the Convention and existing protocols to cover both international and non-international armed conflicts. This is a significant step taken by the states parties towards enhancing the effectiveness of the Convention under the new circumstances while domestic armed conflicts have increased after the end of the Cold War. The amendment was concluded through in-depth study and extensive discussions by the states parties, providing a bigger arena for the Convention to play its role in the fields of humanitarianism and conventional arms control. It also strengthened the binding force of the Convention and filled in gaps of the Convention in addressing humanitarian problems arising from non-international armed conflicts.
We are pleased to note that Canada and the United Kingdom has ratified the amended Article Ⅰ in July this year. China is actively studying the issue of ratification. We sincerely hope that other countries that have not yet ratified the amended Article Ⅰ will also take actions as soon as possible, so as to contribute to the early entry into force of the amendment.
The Second Review Conference of the States Parties to the CCW decided to establish the Group of Governmental Experts to study and discuss the issues of explosive remnants of war (ERW) and anti-vehicle landmines (AVL). The GGE has successfully held three sessions of meeting during which the experts exchanged views on substantive issues and follow-up actions related to ERW and AVL. Facts have shown that the work of the GGE is successful and meaningful, providing a good basis for future work.
The Chinese delegation participated in the work of the GGE in a constructive manner, and made its own contributions. Now, I would like to reiterate China's basic positions on ERW and AVL issues.
As a victim of ERW, China, like many other countries, attaches importance to the humanitarian concerns caused by ERW and wishes to eliminate the threat posed by ERW to civilians at an early date. To address the issue of ERW, two important aspects should be taken into consideration, i.e., to prevent and reduce new ERW and to clear the existing and future ERW. In seeking measures and ways to address the issue, a balance should be stricken between the legitimate defense needs of sovereign states and the humanitarian concerns. At the same time, the divergence among countries in terms of economic and technological capacity should also be taken into account. Therefore, we are of the view that the practical and effective way is to establish general principles universally applicable to ERW-prone munitions, such as setting the principle of user's responsibility for clearance and adopting measures within respective capabilities to improve the reliability of munitions.
The recommendation on follow-up actions on the ERW issue concluded at the third session of the GGE is practical and feasible on the whole and reflects the views of all states parties in a balanced manner. China will continue to take an active part in relevant follow-up actions and make its own contributions to the early conclusion of an ERW "instrument" acceptable to all parties.
We do not deny that AVL has caused certain humanitarian problems, but national security concerns must be taken into consideration at the same time. The latter is the biggest humanitarian issue. Small in size though, mines are effective defensive weapons for vast number of developing countries. We should strike a balance between security needs and humanitarian concerns when addressing the AVL issue. In our view, the AVL issue has already been solved in the Amended Landmine Protocol. Therefore, it is not necessary for the Group of Governmental Experts of CCW to discuss this issue again. As for the recommendation submitted by the GGE on follow-up actions on the AVL issue, we are not satisfied with it. Nevertheless, considering the will of some countries, we are ready to show flexibility and continue to discuss this issue.
China has always supported and actively participated in CCW-related work and has faithfully fulfilled its obligations under the Convention, making concrete contributions to the implementation and improvement of the Convention. China is pleased to see the achievements of the Convention in the fields of conventional arms control and humanitarianism. At the same time, we appreciate the humanitarian efforts by all states parties. China is ready to join other states to make unremitting efforts to further strengthen the universality and effectiveness of the Convention and to promote its role and influence in international arms control and humanitarian areas.
I wish the conference a complete success!
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.