PROTOCOL ON BLINDING LASER WEAPONSSenate Consideration of Treaty Document 105-1(C)
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[Senate Treaty Document 105-1] [From the U.S. Government Printing Office] 105th Congress Treaty Doc. SENATE 1st Session 105-1 _______________________________________________________________________ PROTOCOLS TO THE 1980 CONVENTIONAL WEAPONS CONVENTION __________ MESSAGE from THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES transmitting PROTOCOLS TO THE 1980 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: THE AMENDED PROTOCOL ON PROHIBITIONS OR RESTRICTIONS ON THE USE OF MINES, BOOBY- TRAPS AND OTHER DEVICES (PROTOCOL II OR THE AMENDED MINES PROTOCOL); THE PROTOCOL ON PROHIBITIONS OR RESTRICTIONS ON THE USE OF INCENDIARY WEAPONS (PROTOCOL III OR THE INCENDIARY WEAPONS PROTOCOL); AND THE PROTOCOL ON BLINDING LASER WEAPONS (PROTOCOL IV) January 7, 1997.--Protocols were read the first time and, together with the accompanying papers, referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations and ordered to be printed for the use of the Senate LETTER OF TRANSMITTAL ---------- The White House, January 7, 1997. To the Senate of the United States: I transmit herewith, for the advice and consent of the Senate to ratification, the following Protocols to the 1980 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: the amended Protocol on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Mines, Booby-Traps and Other Devices (Protocol II or the amended Mines Protocol); the Protocol on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Incendiary Weapons (Protocol III or the Incendiary Weapons Protocol); and the Protocol on Blinding Laser Weapons (protocol IV). Also transmitted for the information of the Senate is the report of the Department of State with respect to these Protocols, together with article- by-article analyses. The most important of these Protocols is the amended Mines Protocol. It is an essential step forward in dealing with the problem of anti-personnel landmines (APL) and in minimizing the very severe casualties to civilians that have resulted from their use. It is an important precursor to the total prohibition of these weapons that the United States seeks. Among other things, the amended Mines Protocol will do the following: (1) expand the scope of the original Protocol to include internal armed conflicts, where most civilian mine casualties have occurred; (2) require that all remotely delivered anti-personnel mines be equipped with self-destruct devices and backup self-deactivation features to ensure that they do not pose a long-term threat to civilians; (3) require that all nonremotely delivered anti-personnel mines that are not equipped with such devices be used only within controlled, marked, and monitored minefields to protect the civilian population in the area; (4) require that all anti-personnel mines be detectable using commonly available technology to make the task of mine clearance easier and safer; (5) require that the party laying mines assume responsibility for them to ensure against their irresponsible and indiscriminate use; and (6) provide more effective means for dealing with compliance problems to ensure that these restrictions are actually observed. These objectives were all endorsed by the Senate in its Resolution of Ratification of the Convention in March 1995. The amended Mines Protocol was not as strong as we would have preferred. In particular, its provisions on verification and compliance are not as rigorous as we had proposed, and the transition periods allowed for the conversion or elimination of certain noncompliant mines are longer than we thought necessary. We shall pursue these issues in the regular meetings that the amended Protocol provides for review of its operation. Nonetheless, I am convinced that this amended Protocol will, if generally adhered to, save many lives and prevent many tragic injuries. It will, as well, help to prepare the ground for the total prohibition of anti-personnel landmines to which the United States is committed. In this regard, I cannot overemphasize how seriously the United States takes the goal of eliminating APL entirely. The carnage and devastation caused by anti-personnel landmines--the hidden killers that murder and maim more than 25,000 people every year--must end. On May 16, 1996, I launched an international effort to this end. This initiative sets out a concrete path to a global ban on anti-personnel landmines and is one of my top arms control priorities. At the same time, the policy recognizes that the United States has international commitments and responsibilities that must be taken into account in any negotiations on a total ban. As our work on this initiative progresses, we will continue to consult with the Congress. The second of these Protocols--the Protocol on Incendiary Weapons--is a part of the original Convention but was not sent to the Senate for advice and consent with the other 1980 Protocols in 1994 because of concerns about the acceptability of the Protocol from a military point of view. Incendiary weapons have significant potential military value, particularly with respect to flammable military targets that cannot so readily be destroyed with conventional explosives. At the same time, these weapons can be misused in a manner that could cause heavy civilian casualties. In particular, the Protocol prohibits the use of air-delivered incendiary weapons against targets located in a city, town, village, or other concentration of civilians, a practice that caused very heavy civilian casualties in past conflicts. The executive branch has given very careful study to the Incendiaries Protocol and has developed a reservation that would, in our view, make it acceptable from a broader national security perspective. This proposed reservation, the text of which appears in the report of the Department of State, would reserve the right to use incendiaries against military objectives located in concentrations of civilians where it is judged that such use would cause fewer casualties and less collateral damage than alternative weapons. The third of these Protocols--the new Protocol on Blinding Lasers--prohibits the use or transfer of laser weapons specifically designed to cause permanent blindness to unenhanced vision (that is, to the naked eye or to the eye with corrective devices). The Protocol also requires Parties to take all feasible precautions in the employment of other laser systems to avoid the incidence of such blindness. These blinding lasers are not needed by our military forces. They are potential weapons of the future, and the United States is committed to preventing their emergence and use. The United States supports the adoption of this new Protocol. I recommend that the Senate give its early and favorable consideration to these Protocols and give its advice and consent to ratification, subject to the conditions described in the accompanying report of the Department of State. The prompt ratification of the amended Mines Protocol is particularly important, so that the United States can continue its position of leadership in the effort to deal with the humanitarian catastrophe of irresponsible landmine use. William J. Clinton. LETTER OF SUBMITTAL ---------- Department of State, Washington, December 7, 1996. The President, The White House. The President: I have the honor to submit to you, with a view to transmission to the Senate for advice and consent to ratification, three protocols to the Convention on Prohibitions or Restriction on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May be Deemed to be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects (the Convention): (A) the Amended Protocol on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Mines, Booby-Traps and Other Devices adopted at Geneva on May 3, 1996 (Protocol II or the Amended Mines Protocol); (B) the Protocol on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Incendiary Weapons adopted at Geneva on October 10, 1980 (Protocol III or the Incendiary Weapons Protocol); and (C) the Protocol on Blinding Laser Weapons adopted at Geneva on May 3, 1996 (Protocol IV). Also submitted for transmittal for the information of the Senate is the report of the Department of State with respect to these Protocols, together with article- by-article analyses. Background The Convention was concluded at Geneva on October 10, 1980, and signed by the United States on April 8, 1982. It entered into force on December 2, 1983, and, along with two of its Protocols, was ratified by the United States on March 24, 1995. The Convention 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 important 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 Convention, adopted October 10, 1980, 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 Non-detectable Fragments Protocol, 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, which are discussed at greater length below. Protocol III, the Incendiary Weapons Protocol, restricts the use of incendiary weapons in various ways. In March 1995, the United States Senate gave its advice and consent to ratification of the Convention, including its Non- detectable Fragments Protocol and its Mines Protocol. The Incendiary Weapons Protocol was not transmitted to the Senate at the time the Convention (and the two protocols) was transmitted and was instead given further study by the interagency community owing to certain military concerns. Those concerns have now been fully addressed. The First Review Conference for the Convention completed its review with the adoption of an amended Mines Protocol on May 3, 1996. Also at that session, the Conference adopted a new Protocol IV, the Blinding Laser Weapons Protocol. (a) the amended mines protocol The amended Mines Protocol is, overall, a significant improvement over the 1980 Protocol and will, if widely observed, result in a substantial decrease in civilian casualties caused by the indiscriminate use of anti-personnel mines. The provisions of the amended Mines Protocol essentially reflect the practices already adopted by U.S. forces for the protection of the civilian population. At the same time, the provisions of the amended Protocol, although improved, do not provide a complete solution to the serious problem of indiscriminate use of these devices. The amended Protocol will, however, continue to constitute a critical factor in our efforts to eliminate anti-personnel mines altogether and, in this regard is entirely consistent with your May 16, 1996, announcement of our policy to pursue an international agreement to ban use, stockpiling, production, and transfer of anti-personnel landmines. For these reasons, the amended Protocol is desirable. It is consistent with U.S. military interests and humanitarian concerns. The earliest possible entry into force of the amended Protocol is therefore highly desirable. Accordingly, the United States should ratify it at the earliest possible date. (b) the incendiary weapons protocol Protocol III--the Protocol on Incendiary Weapons--was a part of the original Convention package adopted at Geneva on October 10, 1980, but it was not sent to the Senate for advice and consent to ratification because of concerns about the acceptability of the Protocol from a military point of view. Incendiary weapons have significant potential military value, particularly with respect to flammable military targets that cannot so readily be destroyed with conventional explosives. At the same time, these weapons can be misused in a manner that could cause heavy civilian casualties. In particular, the Protocol prohibits the use of air-delivered incendiary weapons against targets located in a city, town, village or other concentration of civilians, a practice which caused very heavy civilian casualties in past conflicts. The Executive Branch has given very careful study to the Incendiaries Protocol and has developed a specific condition that would, in our view, make it acceptable from a broader national security perspective. This condition consists of a proposed reservation that would reserve the right to use incendiaries against military targets located in concentrations of civilians where it is judged that such use would cause fewer casualties and less collateral damage than alternative weapons. A good example of this would be the hypothetical use of incendiaries to destroy biological agents in an enemy storage facility where explosive devices might simply spread the agents with disastrous consequences for the civilian population. (C) THE BLINDING LASER WEAPONS PROTOCOL The provisions of the Blinding Laser Weapons Protocol, Protocol IV, if widely observed, will result in a substantially reduced risk of widespread development, proliferation and use of blinding laser weapons. The Protocol is intended to address this risk in a timely way, before such weapons become commonplace. At the same time, lasers are absolutely vital to our modern military and the legitimate use of lasers for other military purposes is acknowledged by the Protocol. Indeed, lasers provide significant humanitarian benefits on and off the battlefield. They allow weapons systems to be increasingly discriminate, thereby reducing collateral damage to civilian lives and property. The inevitable incidental or collateral effect of legitimate military use of lasers is also recognized and is explicitly not covered by this Protocol. The Department of Defense, will, nonetheless, continue to strive, through training and doctrine, to minimize these effects. The Blinding Laser Weapons Protocol is desirable therefore both because it reduces the potential risks of proliferation of blinding laser weapons and because it clarifies the legitimacy of other types of battlefield lasers. It is fully consistent with U.S. military interests, Department of Defense policy and humanitarian concerns generally. Accordingly, the United States should ratify it at an early date. Conditions The Senate is being asked to include a number of conditions, described in detail in the accompanying analyses, in its resolution of advice and consent to ratification. The texts of the three understandings to the amended Mines Protocol and the reservation to the Incendiary Weapons Protocol follow: (A) The Amended Mines Protocol 1. The United States understands, with reference to Article 3, Paragraph 9 of the amended Mines Protocol, that an area of land can itself be a legitimate military objective for the purpose of the use of landmines, if its neutralization or denial, in the circumstances ruling at the time, offers a definite military advantage. 2. The United States understands that Article 5, Paragraph 2 of the amended Mines Protocol does not preclude agreement, in connection with peace treaties or similar arrangements, to allocate responsibilities under this subparagraph in a manner which nevertheless respects the essential spirit and purpose of the Article. 3. The United States understands that Article 7, Paragraph 2 of the amended Mines Protocol does not prohibit the adaptation in advance of other objects for use as booby-traps or other devices. (C) The Incendiary Weapons Protocol The United States declares, with reference to Article 2, Paragraphs 2 and 3 of the Incendiary Weapons Protocol, that it will reserve the right to use incendiary weapons against military targets located in concentrations of civilians where it is judged that such use would cause fewer casualties and less collateral damage than alternative weapons. Conclusion The amended Mines Protocol, the Incendiary Weapons Protocol and the Blinding Laser Weapons Protocol contain restrictions which offer significant humanitarian benefit. Subject to the recommended conditions, all three are consistent with U.S. military requirements, and with existing U.S. military practices. Ratification by the United States will highlight our commitment on restricting or prohibiting unacceptable methods of warfare and, with respect to the amended Mines Protocol in particular, will materially advance our efforts to end the scourge posed by anti-personnel mines altogether. An article- by-article analysis of each of the three protocols is enclosed. The Department of State, the Department of Defense and the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency join in recommending that the amended Mines Protocol, the Blinding Laser Weapons Protocol and the Incendiary Weapons Protocol be transmitted to the Senate for advice and consent to ratification, subject to the conditions previously described, at an early date. Respectfully submitted, Warren Christopher. Enclosures: Tab (A) The Article-by-Article Analysis of the Amended Mines Protocol. Tab (B) The Article-by-Article Analysis of the Incendiary Weapons Protocol. Tab (C) The Article-by-Article Analysis of the Blinding Laser Weapons Protocol.