Universalizing the Convention
Action to Promote Universality of the Convention
At the 2011 Fourth Review Conference, High Contracting Parties recognized that universalization is critical to the success of the Convention and its Protocols as major international humanitarian law treaties.
Since the 2006 Third Review Conference, significant progress had been made on universalization. Much of this was attributed to the leadership demonstrated by the office holders of the Convention, Amended Protocol II and Protocol V; the efforts of High Contracting Parties both bilaterally and regionally; the role of the Sponsorship Programme in increasing awareness of the Convention and its Protocols, and the support provided by the United Nations and other international organizations.
20. The following is a snapshot of the progress that was made between 2006 and 2011:
(a) With 14 new High Contracting Parties, the total number of High Contracting Parties to the Convention stands at 115.
(b) At the time of the Third Review Conference, 44 States had become party to Amended Article 1 of the Convention and the total was 75.
( c) Protocols I, III and IV attracted 12, 13 and 14 new High Contracting Parties respectively. The total numbers of High Contracting Parties were for Protocol I - 110, Protocol III - 106 and Protocol IV – 100.
(d) Protocol II attracted 4 new High Contracting Parties and Amended Protocol II gained 11 with the latter having a total of 97.
(e) Unsurprisingly, Protocol V attracted the largest number of new High Contracting Parties. Since the Third Review Conference it had gained 48 new High Contracting Parties, which brought its total number to 75.
The Convention has inherently a flexible structure. According to Article 4 of the Convention
, a State may express its consent to be bound by the Convention or any of the Protocols annexed to it, provided that at the time of the deposit of its instrument of ratification, acceptance or approval of the Convention or of accession thereto, that State notifies the Depositary of its consent to be bound by any two or more of these Protocols. At any time after the deposit of its instrument of ratification, acceptance or approval of the Convention or of accession thereto, a State may notify the Depositary of its consent to be bound by any annexed Protocol by which it is not already bound. Any Protocol by which a High Contracting Party is bound forms for that Party an integral part of this Convention.
Focus on Affected States
Over the years, and especially throughout the last decade, there has been significant progress towards universal adherence. Nevertheless, a number of Member States of the United Nations have yet to ratify or otherwise accede to the Convention and its annexed Protocols. For instance, if most of the States of the two European Groups (Western European and Eastern European) and a majority of the Latin American and Caribbean States have become parties to the Convention
, the rate of adherence still remains low in Africa, Asia, in particular South-East Asia, and the Middle East. However,
half of those that are not yet parties to the Convention are mine-affected and ERW-affected countries. Several of them are still, or have recently been, involved in active armed conflicts and hostilities with all their humanitarian consequences.
An Accelerated Plan of Action on Universalization
To promote universalization, at the Fourth Review Conference High Contracting Parties agreed to a 'An Accelerated Plan of Action on Universalization', which includes the following actions:
1. Recognizing that universalization is critical to the success of the Convention and its Protocols as major international humanitarian law treaties and positive progress has been achieved since the Third Review Conference. With the total number of High Contracting Parties to the Convention standing at 114, universalization must continue to be a priority issue;
2. Reaffirming their commitment to the Plan of Action agreed to at the Third Review Conference;
3. Prioritizing universalization efforts on Signatory States, States not party from conflict zones, mine and explosive remnants of war affected States not party and regions with low levels of adherence to the Convention;
4. For all High Contracting Parties to seize all relevant opportunities to promote the Convention and its Protocols, especially through their bilateral contacts;
5. For all High Contracting Parties and the CCW Implementation Support Unit, United Nations Office of Disarmament Affairs, and other United Nations structures and agencies to work with international organizations, regional organizations, International Committee of the Red Cross, parliamentarians, civil society and other stakeholders to promote universality;
6. Urging the CCW Sponsorship Programme to explore all avenues and opportunities to advance universalization of the Convention and its Protocols;
7. Calling on the United Nations Secretary-General to use all available channels to promote the universalization of the Convention and its Protocols, including through the UN Regional Centres for Peace and Disarmament in Lima, Lomé and Kathmandu;
8. Requesting the CCW Implementation Support Unit to assist High Contracting Parties efforts to promote universalization, gather information on States not party and work towards the objective of universal adherence to the Convention and its Protocols;
9. Further requesting the CCW Implementation Support Unit to continue to report annually to the Meeting of the High Contracting Parties on the efforts undertaken towards and progress made on universalization; and
10. Establishing ‘Universalization of the Convention and its Protocols’ as a standing agenda item of the annual Meetings of the High Contracting Parties under which the Chairperson-designate, High Contracting Parties, United Nations, International Committee of the Red Cross, regional organizations and other organizations would exchange information and report on their respective efforts to promote universalization.