Definitions

granted on certain terms

Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons

The United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CWC or CCWC), concluded at Geneva on October 10, 1980 and entered into force in December 1983, seeks to prohibit or restrict the use of certain conventional weapons which are considered excessively injurious or whose effects are indiscriminant.

The full title is Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects and it is an annexe to the Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949.

Convention adoption and entry into force

The CCWC consist of a set of additional protocols first formulated on October 10, 1980, in Geneva and entered into force on December 2, 1983. As of February 2008, there were 106 signatories and 106 state parties to the convention. Some of those countries (including the United States) have only adopted two of the five protocols, the minimum required to be considered a signatory.

The convention has five protocols:

Protocol II was amended in 1996 (extending its scope of application), and entered in force on December 3, 1998. As at June 15, 2000, there were 50 contracting parties to the amended protocol. The amendment extended the restrictions on landmine use to internal conflicts; established reliability standards for remotely delivered mines; and prohibited the use of non-detectable fragments in anti-personnel landmines (APL). The failure to agree to a total ban on landmines led to the Ottawa Treaty.

Protocol IV entered into force on July 30, 1998, and as of June 15, 2000, there were 49 contracting parties.

Objectives

The aim of the Convention and its Protocols is to provide new rules for the protection of military personnel and, particularly, civilians and civilian objects from injury or attack under various conditions by means of fragments that cannot readily be detected in the human body by X-rays, landmines and booby traps, and incendiary weapons and blinding laser weapons.

CCWC along with the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) serves as an umbrella for protocols dealing with specific weapons. The Convention and its annexed Protocols apply in the situations common to the Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949 for the Protection of War Victims, including any situation described in Additional Protocol I and Protocol II to these Conventions.

CCWC lacks verification and enforcement mechanisms and spells out no formal process for resolving compliance concerns. A state-party can refute its commitment to the convention or any of the protocols, but it will remain legally bound until one year after notifying the treaty depositary, the UN Secretary-General, of its intent to be free of its obligations.

Protocol I: Non-Detectable Fragments

Protocol I on Non-Detectable Fragments prohibits the use of any weapon the primary effect of which is to injure by fragments which in the human body escape detection by X-rays.

Protocol II: Mines, Booby Traps and Other Devices

Protocol II on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Mines, Booby-Traps and Other Devices was amended on May 3, 1996 to strengthen its provisions. It extends the scope of application to cover both international and internal armed conflicts; prohibits the use of non-detectable anti-personnel mines and their transfer; prohibits the use of non-self-destructing and non-self-deactivitating mines outside fenced, monitored and marked areas; broadens obligations of protection in favour of peacekeeping and other missions of the United Nations and its agencies; requires States to enforce compliance with its provisions within their jurisdiction; and calls for penal sanctions in case of violation.

Protocol III: Incendiary Weapons

Protocol III on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Incendiary Weapons prohibits, in all circumstances, making the civilian population as such, individual civilians or civilian objects, the object of attack by any weapon or munition which is primarily designed to set fire to objects or to cause burn injury to persons through the action of flame, heat or a combination thereof, produced by a chemical reaction of a substance delivered on the target.

Protocol IV: Blinding Laser Weapons

Protocol IV on Blinding Laser Weapons prohibits the use of laser weapons specifically designed to cause permanent blindness. The High Contracting Parties shall not transfer such weapons to any State or non-State entity.

Protocol V: Explosive Remnants of War

Protocol V on Explosive Remnants of War regulates the clearance of AXO (abandoned explosive ordnance) and UXO (unexploded ordnance), such as unexploded fragments of cluster bombs. Countries such as Laos (following the Vietnam War) and Lebanon (following the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict) are heavily contaminated by unexploded cluster bombs.

References

Further reading

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