The Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) is a treaty for situations of armed conflict. It contains generic provisions and protocols on specific weapons and their use and has been built upon the customary rules that regulate the conduct of hostilities. These include: the rules of distinction, proportionality and precautions in attacks; and the prohibition of weapons which inflict gratuitous injury or suffering on combatants. Since the adoption of the framework convention in 1980, states adopted five protocols:
The GICHD has an observer status to the CCW’s States Parties meetings. The Centre provides independent technical input on international efforts to minimise human suffering caused by landmines, booby traps and other devices and explosive remnants of war. The focus is on the humanitarian impact of conventional weapons and on offering technical advisory services.
The GICHD is also administering the CCW Sponsorship Programme, as mandated by the High Contracting Parties at the CCW Third Review Conference in November 2006.
Adopted in 1980, the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) Protocol II deals with landmines, booby-traps and other devices. It began by limiting the use of these weapons and requiring that some general measures be taken to reduce dangers to civilians, such as by warning of attacks where feasible.
However, in practice, its rules did not provide adequate protection to civilians from the effects of anti-personnel mines in particular. Therefore, in 1996, High Contracting Parties to the CCW adopted Amended Protocol II (AP II) in an effort to address this.
An improvised explosive device (IED) is defined as “a device placed or fabricated in an improvised manner incorporating explosive material, destructive, lethal, noxious, incendiary, pyrotechnic materials or chemicals designed to destroy, disfigure, distract or harass. They may incorporate military stores, but are normally devised from non-military components”. IED are used by non-state armed groups in particular, and play an increasing role in many conflicts. AP II remains the only legally-binding instrument that covers IED explicitly.
Amended Protocol II provides only minimal restrictions on the use of anti-vehicle mines. Despite numerous attempts, no consensus has yet been reached on adopting stricter rules on these weapons. Anti-vehicle mines are of great concern from a humanitarian perspective. In some countries, more injuries and deaths occur due to anti-vehicle mines than anti-personnel mines.
In 2013, the GICHD, together with the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), undertook a joint research project on the humanitarian and developmental impact of anti-vehicle mines.
Due to a growing awareness of the consequences that unexploded ordnance (UXO) and cluster munitions pose to civilians in conflicts, the High Contracting Parties adopted Protocol V on Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) in 2003. Protocol V defines ERW as UXO and abandoned explosive ordnance (AXO).
The GICHD supported the First Meeting of the High Contracting Parties by advising on the Rules of Procedure and defining procedural and operational matters. Since then, advice has also been provided on the best use of the Information Management System for Mine Action (IMSMA) for data collection and on the best use of the International Mine Action Standards (IMAS) for the clearance, removal and destruction of ERW.
At the Meeting of Experts of the High Contracting Parties to CCW Protocol V in July 2008, the GICHD launched the study 'Mine Action and the Implementation of CCW Protocol V on Explosive Remnants of War'. At the Second Conference of the High Contracting Parties, in November 2008, the GICHD launched the 'Guide to Ammunition Storage'. The Guide identifies and promotes good practice in the safe storage of ammunition and contributes to international efforts to address this important issue.