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December 18, 2016
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Pakistan makes history as Janjua chairs CCW review conference

National

December 18, 2016

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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan made history on Friday when its Permanent Representative to Geneva, Ambassador Tehmina Janjua, became the first woman, and the first developing country representative, to preside over the Conference of Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) Fifth Review Conference.

She was elected unanimously as the President of the CCW.

Janjua at home has been short-listed, amongst three senior most officials at the Foreign Office, to be the next foreign secretary.

If Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif picks her name, history of sorts will be made, with the Foreign Office finally having its first woman foreign secretary.

“Pakistan’s unanimous election as the President of this important Conference was recognition of the country’s strong credentials in multilateral diplomacy as well as in international arms control related issues.

Pakistan’s successful stewardship of the Conference towards a substantive outcome was widely appreciated”, Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria said in a statement.

He said Pakistan presided over the successful conclusion of the CCW.

Speaking at the final session, Ambassador Janjua said the Conference had taken “important and far-reaching decisions dealing with different substantive contemporary issues”.

Adopted on 10th October 1980, the Convention codifies two fundamental customary principles of international humanitarian law applicable in armed conflict: the prohibition on the use of weapons which have indiscriminate effects and the prohibition on weapons which are “of a nature to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering.” 

The Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the use of certain Conventional Weapons, which may be excessively injurious or have indiscriminate effect the CCW, and its Protocols deal with prohibitions, restrictions and regulation of the use of weapons such as mines, booby traps, incendiary weapons, blinding lasers and explosive remnants of war.

The implementation of the Convention is reviewed every five years in a comprehensive manner by the Review Conference. 

These major Review Conferences also consider new types of conventional weapons of concern, as well as technological developments that impact on the Convention.

It is important to note that conventional weapons, or weapons which are not derived from chemical, nuclear, or biological sources, are the most common type of weapons employed in an armed conflict and are responsible for untold injuries, deaths, and human suffering. 

While the primary intention of the CCW is to protect civilians, as well as combatants, in situations of armed conflict, from excessive suffering not necessitated by a legitimate military objective, it is fair to ask what the CCW feels about Indian security forces blinding hundreds of Kashmiris in the Indian Held Kashmir? 

In this regard, it is important for the CCW to remember, two fundamental customary principles of international humanitarian law applicable in armed conflict: the prohibition on the use of weapons which have indiscriminate effects and the prohibition on weapons which are “of a nature to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering.” 

Under this “customary principles”, it is important to recall hundreds of unarmed Kashmiris who have been blinded by the use of pellet guns in Indian Held Kashmir.

Security forces in IHK have themselves admitted some months ago that they had fired over 4,000 cartridges at demonstrators which translated into millions of metal balls directed at mostly faces of Kashmirs, thus blinding them.

This prompted Kashmiri writer to ask if this was the “World’s first mass blinding?”

Earlier, the spokesman had commented, “Sufferings of victims of pellet guns, pains of the families of those defenseless Kashmiris martyred and intense mental sufferings of the families of those over 8,000 arrested with their fate remains unknown”.

Important for the CCW is to take note is what doctors in IHK are saying. 

According to one report, “Doctors expressed their dissatisfaction and rejected, as ambiguous the report compiled by Ophthalmology Pathologists in India, suspecting that there is something else about the pellet shots that is causing insides of the eye to turn into a charcoal like substance”.

It is very clear from the fate of the blinded Kashmiris that some chemical has been induced into the pellet shots which causes such blinding injuries.

The week-long Conference concluded yesterday in Geneva after protracted negotiations on complex issues, including incendiary weapons, use of conventional weapons in highly populated areas, and lethal autonomous weapon systems. 

The discussions focused on the military utility and humanitarian concerns rising from the use of these weapons. 

Currently, there are 100 States Parties to the treaty, with six additional signatories that have not yet ratified the Convention. These six countries are Afghanistan, Egypt, Iceland, Nigeria, Sudan and Vietnam.

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