- Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons
Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons 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 Drafted September 10–28, 1979 and Sep 15–Oct 10, 1980 Signed April 10, 1981 Effective December 2, 1983 Signatories 50 Parties 109
Depositary UN Secretary-General Languages Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish
The United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW 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 indiscriminate.
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 annex 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 March 2009, there were 109 state parties to the convention. Some of those countries have only adopted two of the five protocols, the minimum required to be considered a signatory.
The convention has five protocols:
- Protocol I restricts weapons with non-detectable fragments
- Protocol II restricts landmines, booby traps
- Protocol III restricts incendiary weapons
- Protocol IV restricts blinding laser weapons (adopted on October 13, 1995, in Vienna)
- Protocol V sets out obligations and best practice for the clearance of explosive remnants of war, adopted on November 28, 2003 in Geneva
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.
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 are not detectable in human body 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-deactivating 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. The protocol also prohibits the use of incendiary weapons against military targets near concentration of civilians, which may otherwise be allowed by the principle of proportionality. Protocol III lists certain munition types like smoke shells which, even if they contain White Phosphorus, only have a secondary incendiary effect; these munition types are not considered to be incendiary weapons.
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 requires the clearance of UXO (unexploded ordnance), such as unexploded bomblets of cluster bombs, land mines and abandoned explosive weapons.
At the cessation of active hostilities, Protocol V establishes a responsibility on parties that have used explosive weapons to assist with the clearance of unexploded ordnance that this use has created. Parties are also required, subject to certain qualifications, to provide information on their use of explosive weapons.
- The Convention in English UN site
- Text of the Convention at the Center for a World in Balance
- State parties to the treaty
- State parties to the protocols
- The Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons on the Historic Archives section of the UN Audiovisual Library of International Law website
- Conventional weapons and international humanitarian law, International Committee of the Red Cross.
- Arms Control Association Fact Sheet
- U.S. CCW Delegation Information Site
- A meeting of a UN working group on the CCW which contains in an appendix the list of signatory countries, and which protocols they are signatories to.
- Disarmament Insight website
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