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Generic Preventive Measures

Stockpile of disposed unexploded ordinances in Juba, Sudan. Photo taken by the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS),

“Preventing is better than curing”

Generic preventative measures (GPMs) are an important element in preventing munitions from being transformed into explosive remnants of war. Generic preventive measures cover the entire life cycle of munitions and include design, manufacturing, testing, storage, transportation and handling, and training for users.

In order to ensure that Protocol V took a comprehensive approach to preventing explosive ordnance from becoming explosive remnants of war, Article 9 of Protocol V and Part III of its Technical Annex addresses generic preventive measures.

Generic preventive measures is still a relatively new issue and only now is the international community beginning to understand the major challenges and costs involved in this area. An article published in The Economist in September 2012 highlights the hazards and challenges regarding the storage and handling of munitions. For example, the article states that in 2011 there were "442 victims from 46 explosions" and goes on to say that, "Landmines get far more money and legal scrutiny than ammunition dumps, because of their dire effects. But perhaps too much. Adrian Wilkinson, a UN explosive specialist, reckons landmines have killed roughly five times as many people, but at least 100 times more is spent on dealing with them." The article can be accessed here.

Article 9 states:

Generic preventive measures

1. Bearing in mind the different situations and capacities, each High Contracting
Party is encouraged to take generic preventive measures aimed at minimizing the
occurrence of explosive remnants of war, including, but not limited to, those referred
to in part 3 of the Technical Annex.

2. Each High Contracting Party may, on a voluntary basis, exchange information
related to efforts to promote and establish best practices in respect of paragraph 1 of
this Article.

The Technical Annex on Generic Preventive Measures

Part 3 of the Technical Annex of Protocol V gives examples of measures during the life cycle of explosives, during areas such as manufacturing, storage, transportation, packaging, stockpiling, testing and training. Specifically, Part 3 of the Technical Annex states:

States producing or procuring explosive ordnance should to the extent possible and as
appropriate endeavour to ensure that the following measures are implemented and
respected during the life-cycle of explosive ordnance.

(a) Munitions manufacturing management

(i) Production processes should be designed to achieve the greatest reliability of
munitions.
(ii) Production processes should be subject to certified quality control measures.
(iii) During the production of explosive ordnance, certified quality assurance
standards that are internationally recognised should be applied.
(iv) Acceptance testing should be conducted through live-fire testing over a
range of conditions or through other validated procedures.
(v) High reliability standards should be required in the course of explosive
ordnance transactions and transfers.

(b) Munitions management

In order to ensure the best possible long-term reliability of explosive ordnance, States
are encouraged to apply best practice norms and operating procedures with respect to
its storage, transport, field storage, and handling in accordance with the following
guidance.

(i) Explosive ordnance, where necessary, should be stored in secure
facilities or appropriate containers that protect the explosive ordnance
and its components in a controlled atmosphere, if necessary.
(ii) A State should transport explosive ordnance to and from production
facilities, storage facilities and the field in a manner that minimises
damage to the explosive ordnance.
(iii) Appropriate containers and controlled environments, where necessary,
should be used by a State when stockpiling and transporting explosive
ordnance.
(iv) The risk of explosions in stockpiles should be minimised by the use of
appropriate stockpile arrangements.
(v) States should apply appropriate explosive ordnance logging, tracking
and testing procedures, which should include information on the date of
manufacture of each number, lot or batch of explosive ordnance, and
information on where the explosive ordnance has been, under what
conditions it has been stored, and to what environmental factors it has
been exposed.
(vi) Periodically, stockpiled explosive ordnance should undergo, where
appropriate, live-firing testing to ensure that munitions function as
desired.
(vii) Sub-assemblies of stockpiled explosive ordnance should, where
appropriate, undergo laboratory testing to ensure that munitions function
as desired.
(viii) Where necessary, appropriate action, including adjustment to the
expected shelf-life of ordnance, should be taken as a result of
information acquired by logging, tracking and testing procedures, in
order to maintain the reliability of stockpiled explosive ordnance.

(c) Training

The proper training of all personnel involved in the handling, transporting and use of
explosive ordnance is an important factor in seeking to ensure its reliable operation as
intended. States should therefore adopt and maintain suitable training programmes to
ensure that personnel are properly trained with regard to the munitions with which
they will be required to deal.

(d) Transfer

A State planning to transfer explosive ordnance to another State that did not
previously possess that type of explosive ordnance should endeavour to ensure that
the receiving State has the capability to store, maintain and use that explosive
ordnance correctly.

(e) Future production

A State should examine ways and means of improving the reliability of explosive
ordnance that it intends to produce or procure, with a view to achieving the highest
possible reliability.