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Fifth CCW Review Conference begins in Geneva

From 12-16 December 2016, states parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW)—the treaty that restricts or prohibits weapons that have been deemed “excessively injurious” or to have indiscriminate effects—are meeting to review its implementation.

The implementation of the treaty, and the development of new law under the treaty, is not going well. We are seeing some of the weapons that the CCW should have dealt with, including incendiary weapons and cluster munitions, being used in various conflicts. We are also seeing the relentless use of explosive violence in populated areas in many different countries, and the development of new lethal technologies, including autonomous weapons.

During the opening general debate, states indicated concern with the humanitarian harm caused by a number of weapons covered by the treaty, or by the development of future weapons. This included specific reference to conflicts in Syria, Libya, Ukraine, and elsewhere, making a rare connection between “debate” in the CCW and reality. However, there still seems to be limited agreement on how to deal with these problems. In the meantime, casualties are mounting and damage to cities, towns, and communities is increasing. Aleppo was subjected to “doomsday bombardment” on Sunday night and Monday, with non-stop artillery shelling described by one resident as “slaughter on air”. The remaining humanitarian volunteers operating in Aleppo have written an appeal for safe passage, noting that they “are with 100,000 civilians trapped in an area of five square metres with non-stop bombs, shells and advancements on the ground. In one building more than 500 people are sheltering. People have been underground for days.” 

Reaching Critical Will, the disarmament programme of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, will provide full coverage of the conference through its daily CCW Report. We are focusing on issues related to lethal autonomous weapon systems, incendiary weapons, the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, improvised explosive devices, and mines other than antipersonnel mines. The daily report provides analysis and advocacy, highlights from the expert discussions, and reports on side events. You can subscribe to receive this report by email, and you can also find statements, documents, archived CCW Reports, and more information. 

You can also follow the discussions on Twitter at #CCWUN#killerrobots@RCW_, and @BanKillerRobots, among others. 

On Monday, 12 December, WILPF delivered a statement to the conference.