|China's Position on the Issue of Explosive Remnant of War
The Chinese Government attaches importance to the ERW issue and understands the wish of some countries and ICRC to resolve this issue. In fact, China also suffers from ERW. Until today, various kinds of unexploded ordnance left over from World War Ⅱ remain on the Chinese territory, posing a threat to the lives and property of local civilians.
II. Basic principles for addressing the ERW issue
The Chinese Delegation is of the view that the following two principles should be taken into consideration when discussing the ERW issue: First, since the ERW issue involves humanitarian concerns and legitimate military needs of sovereign states, we should attach equal importance to both aspects. Second, there is a big divergence among countries in terms of technical level and financial affordability, therefore, we should explore a feasible way to handle the ERW issue in a pragmatic manner.
III. How to handle the ERW issue
First, ERW results from a wide range of weapons and munitions in actual situation, thus we have to be careful in defining the scope of ERW. In order to avoid legal overlapping or conflict, those categories of weapons that have already been covered by the existing protocols should not be included in ERW scope. For example, anti-vehicle landmine and anti-personnel landmine, which have already been dealt with in the Landmine Protocol, should not be addressed once again within the framework of ERW.
Second, when addressing the ERW issue, we should not be confined to the mode of landmine issue, let alone copy the technical specifications on self-destruction and self-deactivation from the Landmine Protocol. Most conventional munitions are different from landmines in terms of technical and tactical requirements. They belong to offensive weapons aimed at 100% explosion. Therefore, from the technical perspective, it's not reasonable to set self-destruction or self-deactivation criteria for ERW following the example of landmines.
In light of the above mentioned, the Chinese Delegation holds that discussions on the ERW issue should be focused on establishing some general principles, such as the responsibility for clearance, warning to civilian population of the specific dangers of unexploded ordnance and providing assistance for clearance, etc.
Some countries have proposed a ban on using cluster bomb against military objects located in concentrations of civilians. The Chinese Delegation can agree to this principle for it conforms to the spirit of humanitarianism. However, since there is no universally accepted definition of "concentration of civilians" so far, it is necessary to draw a clear line in future discussions.
As for the responsibility for clearance, the Chinese Delegation can agree to the principle of "users' responsibility for clearance", which would help resolve the ERW issue.
IV. The mandate for a group of governmental experts (GGE) on ERW
Given the technical complexity and political sensibility of the ERW issue, it is premature to negotiate a legal instrument to address this issue at current stage. Nor can we set a deadline for a negotiation in advance. The feasible way is to adopt a "two-step approach". First, establishing a Group of Governmental Experts to explore all possible ways to address the ERW issue. Second, upon receiving the report of that Group of Governmental Experts, the States Parties may consider and decide to take further actions, including whether to initiate negotiations and/or take other ways and means.
Based on the above consideration, the Chinese Delegation proposes the following draft mandate for the GGE on ERW:
The Review Conference of the States Parties to CCW decides to establish a Group of Governmental Experts with a view to discuss proper ways to address the ERW issue. In this context, the group shall focus their consideration on, inter alia,
1. Which factors and which types of munitions are most relevant to causing humanitarian concerns after a conflict.
2. Whether existing international humanitarian laws have provided with proper regulations on the issue of ERW.
The Group of Governmental Experts shall undertake its work in an efficient manner so as to submit relevant recommendations to the States Parties, including whether to initiate negotiations and/or take other ways and means.