The Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons

The 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 as amended on 21 December 2001, usually referred to as the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons or CCW, is also known as the Inhumane Weapons Convention.

The purpose of the Convention is to ban or restrict the use of specific types of weapons that are considered to cause unnecessary or unjustifiable suffering to combatants or to affect civilians indiscriminately.

Structure of the Convention

The unique structure of the CCW aims to ensure flexibility in dealing with new developments in armed conflicts and weapon technologies.

  1. Framework Convention – contains general provisions on the operation, including rules on joining the regime and the possibility to negotiate and adopt new protocols;
  2. Protocols annexed to the Convention – contain the substantive prohibitions and restrictions on certain types of weapons;

The Convention including three annexed protocols was adopted on 10 October 1980 and opened for signature on 10 April 1981 for the duration of one year. A total of 50 States signed the Convention, which entered into force on 2 December 1983.

Initial three protocols

  1. Protocol I   –  Non-Detectable Fragments
  2. Protocol II  – Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Mines, Booby Traps and Other Devices 
  3. Protocol III – Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Incendiary Weapons

Later additions

  • Protocol IV – Blinding Laser Weapons:
    • Adopted on 13 October 1995 during the First Review Conference of the States parties to the Convention (pursuant to Article 8, Paragraph 3 (b) of the Convention) and entered into force on 30 July 1998.
  • Protocol on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Mines, Booby-Traps and Other Devices as amended on 3 May 1996 (Amended Protocol II):
    • Adopted at the First Review Conference, (pursuant to Article 8 Paragraph 1 (b) of the Convention) and entered into force on 3 December 1998.
  • Amendment to Article 1:
    • Extends the Convention scope of application to also cover situations of non-international armed conflict. Adopted at the Second Review Conference in December 2001 (pursuant to Article 8, Paragraph 1 (b) of the Convention) and entered into force on 18 May 2004.
  • Protocol V – Explosive Remnants of War:
    • The first multilaterally negotiated instrument to deal with the problem of unexploded and abandoned ordnance. Adopted on 28 November 2003 by the Meeting of the States Parties to the Convention, (pursuant to Article 5 Paragraph 3 of the Convention) and entered into force on 12 November 2006
Certified true copies of the texts of the Convention and its annexed Protocols (in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish)

The certified true copies of the following documents are available for download:

  1. The Convention and its Protocols I, II and III
  2. The amendment to Article 1 of the Convention
  3. Amended Protocol II
  4. Protocol IV
  5. Protocol V

Note: The Meeting of the States parties to the CCW in November 2003 adopted Protocol V on ERW on the understanding that it was subject to checking of the other language versions by States whose working language was not English. Accordingly, proposed corrections from different delegation on the Chinese, French, Russian and Spanish text of the Protocol had been received, considered and approved by the CCW States parties, and effected by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, acting as depositary of the Convention.

The certified true copies of the corrected version of Protocol V are available in Chinese, French, Russian and Spanish.

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