First Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions
Statement by Mr. Hisashi TOKUNAGA,
Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs
Vientiane, 9 November 2010


Mr. President (His Excellency Dr. Thongloun Sisoulith),
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my great honor and pleasure to attend the First Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM). I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Government of the Lao People's Democratic Republic for hosting this very important event. Allow me to also extend my heartfelt congratulations to His Excellency Dr. Thongloun Sisoulith on assuming the presidency of this meeting. I wish you every success and assure you of my delegation's full support.

Mr. President,

Yesterday I visited one of the most heavily affected regions of this country, Xieng Khuang Province. As I toured around this area, I felt the deep scars left by armed conflict on this beautiful country more than three decades ago. Having witnessed the harsh reality that local communities and people face even after hostilities have ceased, I acutely recognized the importance of strong leadership by the international community and cooperation among states, international organizations, and civil society. Such leadership is needed for reducing the scourge of war and for achieving the early reconstruction and development of post-conflict societies. In this respect, the First Meeting of States Parties offers a critical opportunity to strengthen this leadership and cooperation.

The Convention entered into force three months ago, and today at this meeting we are entering into a new phase of translating the vision of the CCM into action. What is expected from us is to breathe life into the Convention by focusing on future actions and to further crystallize our efforts toward strengthening the norm that it has created. In particular, the Vientiane Action Plan will provide guidelines for achieving concrete outcomes during the next five years. For this purpose, it is essential for the Action Plan to be ambitious as well as to have a positive impact on the civilian population and the lives of victims.

To ensure the effectiveness of the Convention and to prevent indiscriminate civilian harm, Japan as a State Party places great importance on two elements that constitute the backbone of the CCM. One is the promotion of universalization and the other is the international cooperation and assistance framework used to aid the implementation of the Convention's obligations.

For universalization, Japan has been engaging in outreach activities to advance universal adherence to the Convention. As a Friend of the President on universalization, Japan is taking a leading role in this area by cooperating with other partner states, international organizations, the International Committee of the Red Cross and civil society representatives. Through our outreach activities, it has become apparent that due to a lack of human resources or for technical reasons there are states in need of support from other states in order to ratify the Convention. Those states that are interested in joining the common international efforts to address the problems of cluster munitions need to find solutions to these challenges. And solutions can be found by obtaining practical knowledge and support from the states parties who are already in the process of fulfilling their obligations. Considering that universality cannot be achieved overnight, Japan intends to resolutely continue its outreach activities by paying close attention to the circumstances faced by potential states parties.

Today forty six states are States Parties to the Convention, while a hundred and eight states are signatories. In order to maximize the benefit arising from the Convention and to see its positive impact felt on the ground, it is important to gain broader support from non-States Parties. The number of States Parties has been growing steadily, and we believe it is necessary to maintain the momentum to take action and prevent further humanitarian suffering.

The second element that Japan values is the promotion of international cooperation and assistance provided by the Convention. Japan has been supporting the clearance of UXO, including cluster munitions, and their victims. Since signing the Convention, the Government of Japan has provided assistance of more than 5.6 million US dollars to affected countries, including Lao PDR, for cluster munition clearance and victim assistance. If we include the projects that were ongoing at the time of signing, the figure reaches about 12 million US dollars. Effective utilization of the cooperation framework will contribute to the Convention's increasing effectiveness. Japan is determined to play an active role in this field.

Looking towards the future, it is essential that the norm created by the Convention on Cluster Munitions are further strengthened through the practices of the States Parties and the encouragement of support from non-States Parties. I look forward to hearing the representatives of the States Parties and observers gathered here today reaffirm their strong determination to put an end to the suffering and casualties caused by cluster munitions and present clearly to the international community the way forward as a manifestation of the wisdom and expertise nurtured through our experiences.

Thank you.

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