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Disarmament

Development - concept to production

Protocol V is one of the very few instruments that addresses the design through to the production of munitions. This is a sensitive area that is generally kept within the domain of national governments and private companies. However, improvements to the design of ammunition and applying strict controls and internationally recognised quality standards throughout the production process can contribute to reducing the rate of unexploded ordnance. This is why High Contracting Parties are urged to take action in these areas.

For a discussion on standardisation across the areas of production to in-service see "A discussion on international harmonisation of the safety and suitability for service assessment" by Dr. Michael W. Sharp, MSIAC.

Specifically on munitions manufacturing management, the third part of the Technical Annex to Protocol V encourages High Contracting Parties to carry out the following measures:

    (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.
Article 36 of Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions

Under Article 36 of Additional Protocol I, States have an obligation when designing, developing or purchasing new weapons to assess the risks posed by the particular weapon and its compliance with international humanitarian law. This is in line with the direction given to States under Protocol V to ensure that the processes for the production of munitions achieves a high standard of reliability.

Article 36 states: "In the study, development, acquisition or adoption of a new weapon, means or method of warfare, a High Contracting Party is under an obligation to determine whether its employment would, in some or all circumstances, be prohibited by this Protocol or by any other rule of international law applicable to the High Contracting Party."

The ICRC has published "A Guide to the Legal Review of New Weapons, Means and Methods of Warfare: Measures to Implement Article 36 of Additional Protocol I of 1977". International Review of the Red Cross, Volume 88 Number 864 December 2006.

Protocol V does not specifically address the issue of procurement of munitions. For a discussion on this issue see "Report of Expert Group 8 Environmental Engineering" CEN Workshop 10 Standardisation for Defence Procurement Expert Group 8 Environmental Engineering, April 2011

Checklist on the development of munitions

The Protocol V Generic Preventive Measures checklist addresses the development of munitions. Set out below are the questions included in the checklist in the areas of specification, concept, development, qualification work and production.


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a) Does the design process include a proactive systems safety program (SSP)?
(b) Have the safety aspects and potential hazards of munitions on becoming an UXO been considered?
(c) Does the fusing system incorporate design features that allow assessment to facilitate render safe procedures?
(d) Does the design of fusing systems (or munitions) allow replacement or incorporation of advanced solutions to decrease the failure rate (e.g.: self destruction mechanism, self neutralization mechanism, self-deactivating features, multiple initiating mechanisms, hardware or software upgrades …)?

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