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The United States, in its continuing effort
to protect civilians from harm caused by armed conflict, has ratified four
international agreements governing conventional weapons.
Three of the four agreements are what are
known as protocols to the Convention on Conventional Weapons. That's a treaty
negotiated under the auspices of the United Nations that establishes a
framework for agreements that regulate the use of particular types of
conventional weapons that may be deemed to pose special risks of having indiscriminate
effects or causing unnecessary suffering. There are five protocols to the CCW
and member states ratify each separately.
On Jan. 23, the U.S. formally ratified three protocols addressing the use of
incendiary weapons, blinding lasers weapons, and the effects from unexploded
ordnance left after hostilities. The fourth agreement is an amendment to the
underlying convention that expands the scope of the convention to cover
internal armed conflicts.
The United States played a leading role in negotiating the protocols and the
amendment and has long complied with their obligations. In Afghanistan, for
example, the U.S. sponsors an extensive program to destroy unexploded ordnance
and remove abandoned munitions that makes the territory safer for Afghan
The U.S. has now adopted all five of the convention's protocols. The other two
protocols, which the United States has previously ratified, cover
non-detectable fragments and landmines, booby traps, and other explosive
devices. This latest step reaffirms the U.S. commitment to the development and
implementation of international humanitarian law.