[JURIST] A landmark international treaty governing the clean-up of unexploded munitions left over from war went into effect Sunday. The Protocol on Explosive Remnants of War [treaty text], has already been ratified by 26 states [text, states party]. Although major munitions-producing nations like the United States and Russia have not yet acceded to the pact, it is the first agreement setting guidelines for post-conflict removal of the unexploded ordinance posing grave risks to civilians. According to a summary released by the International Committee of the Red Cross, which welcomed the treaty, it requires parties to an armed conflict to:
- Survey, mark and clear explosive remnants of war (ERW) in areas under their control after a conflict.
- Provide technical, material and financial assistance for the removal of ERW left by their armed forces in areas not under their control.
- Record information on explosive ordnance [sic] used or abandoned by their armed forces and share that information with organizations involved in clearance activities.
- Take all feasible precautions to protect civilians from the effects of ERW, including marking and fencing off dangerous areas and warning them of the risks.
The United States is a signatory to the original protocol document agreed to in November 2003, and President Bush has passed the treaty to the US Senate for consideration. Reuters has more.
The entry into force of the treaty comes in the midst of Third Review Conference [official website; US delegation website] in Geneva on the 1983 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) [text; ACA backgrounder], which already bans or limits the use of incendiary weapons, mines and booby-traps, blinding laser weapons and other devices deemed to cause inhumane injuries. UN officials and rights advocates have been pressing for the convention to be extended [JURIST report] to cover cluster munitions [JURIST news archive], recently used by both sides in the Israel-Hezbollah conflict this past summer. The Protocol is an addendum to the CCW.