Action to Promote Universality of the Convention
At the 2016 Fifth Review Conference, High Contracting Parties recognized that universalization is critical to the success of the Convention and its Protocols as major international humanitarian law treaties.
At the Fifth Review Conference it was agreed that,
"The officeholders of the CCW, Protocol V and Amended Protocol II are to promote universalization of the Convention and its Protocols, and specifically to address States not party, coordinate their activities giving consideration, inter alia, to the elaboration of an action plan and, under the Standing Agenda Item on Universalization of the annual Meeting of High Contracting Parties, to report on their efforts and the progress made in this area.
Focus on Affected States
High Contracting Parties under the Standing Agenda Item on Universalization are encouranged to report on their initiatives to promote universalization of the Convention and its Protocols and to consider adhering to the Protocols to which they are not yet a party and report on the steps taken to do so.
High Contracting Parties which have not yet done so are to consider adhering to the 2001 amendments to Article 1, which extends Protocols I, II, III and IV to non-international armed conflicts.
The Implementation Support Unit is to provide the necessary administrative and substantive support to the officeholders and High Contracting Parties in their efforts to promote universalization, gather information on States not yet party and work towards the objective of universal adherence to the Convention and its Protocols."
Over the years, and especially throughout the last decade, there has been significant progress towards universal adherence. Nevertheless, a number of Member States of the United Nations have yet to ratify or otherwise accede to the Convention and its annexed Protocols. For instance, if most of the States of the two European Groups (Western European and Eastern European) and a majority of the Latin American and Caribbean States have become parties to the Convention
, the rate of adherence still remains low in Africa, Asia, in particular South-East Asia, and the Middle East. However,
half of those that are not yet parties to the Convention are mine-affected and ERW-affected countries. Several of them are still, or have recently been, involved in active armed conflicts and hostilities with all their humanitarian consequences.
Joining the CCW
The Convention has inherently a flexible structure. According to Article 4 of the Convention
, a State may express its consent to be bound by the Convention or any of the Protocols annexed to it, provided that at the time of the deposit of its instrument of ratification, acceptance or approval of the Convention or of accession thereto, that State notifies the Depositary of its consent to be bound by any two or more of these Protocols. At any time after the deposit of its instrument of ratification, acceptance or approval of the Convention or of accession thereto, a State may notify the Depositary of its consent to be bound by any annexed Protocol by which it is not already bound. Any Protocol by which a High Contracting Party is bound forms for that Party an integral part of this Convention.