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Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons / Anti-Personnel Landmines: Executive Summary
TC Home > Treaties > CCW/APL - Table of Contents > Executive Summary

The 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, also known as the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), was negotiated under the auspices of the United Nations Centre for Disarmament Affairs and concluded at Geneva on October 10, 1980. The CCW is part of a legal regime dealing with the conduct of armed conflict, including the four 1949 Geneva Conventions on the Protection of the Victims of War and the 1899 and 1907 Hague Conventions Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land. These treaties attempt to reduce the suffering caused by armed conflicts and provide protection to the victims of war in a manner consistent with legitimate military requirements.

The original CCW contained three Protocols, each of which regulated the use of a particular type of conventional weapon thought to pose special risks of indiscriminate effects or unnecessary suffering. Protocol I, the Protocol 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, the Mines Protocol, contains a detailed set of restrictions on the use of mines, booby-traps and similar devices. Protocol III, the Incendiary Weapons Protocol, restricts the use of incendiary weapons in various ways.

The United States signed the original CCW on April 8, 1982. It entered into force on December 2, 1983. In March 1995, the U.S. ratified Protocols I and II. At the time, Protocol III was not transmitted to the Senate and was instead given further study owing to certain military concerns.

On May 3, 1996, the First Review Conference for the CCW completed its review with the adoption of an amended Protocol II, which significantly strengthens rules governing the use of mines, booby-traps and other devices. Key provisions of the amended Protocol II include:

  • expansion of the scope of the Protocol to include internal armed conflicts;
  • the principle that the party laying mines is responsible for their removal, destruction, and/or maintenance;
  • prohibition on the use and transfer of non-detectable anti-personnel landmines (APL);
  • the principle that non-self-destructing APL may be used only within perimeter marked areas, protected and monitored to ensure the effective exclusion of civilians;
  • remotely-delivered mines must self-destruct within 30 days at 90% reliability and self-deactivate within 120 days with overall reliability of 99.9%;
  • prohibition on the transfer of any mine the use of which is prohibited by the Protocol;
  • establishment of specific, detailed requirements for recording and marking of minefields;

The Review Conference also adopted a new Protocol IV, the Protocol on Blinding Laser Weapons, which prohibits the use of laser weapons specifically designed to cause permanent blindness to unenhanced vision. In January 1997, the President submitted to Congress the amended Protocol II, along with Protocols III and IV.

The United States ratified the amended Protocol II in May 1999.

The Second Review Conference took place in December 2001. The Conference agreed to an amendment expanding the scope of the CCW's application. Previously, the convention only applied to conflicts between sovereign states. The convention now applies to all forms of armed conflict.

In addition, the Review Conference established an open-ended Group of Governmental Experts to conduct follow-up studies on the issue of Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) and the harm caused to civilians by the use of landmines other than anti-personnel mines.

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