18 July 2006
CLUSTER MUNITIONS USE IN LEBANON: CAUSE FOR CONCERN
The Cluster Munition Coalition is concerned by recent reports of the use of cluster munitions in the current conflict in Lebanon. In response to increasing evidence of the excessive humanitarian harm caused by cluster munitions, the CMC appeals to Israel to refrain from any use of cluster munitions. Although the CMC has not yet confirmed the use of these weapons during the present conflict, the number of reports referring to their use make this a matter of immediate concern. Information received by the CMC that Israel has officially reserved the right to use cluster munitions during the current offensive in Lebanon is also a matter of concern. Lebanon has already endured and continues to be affected by the devastating impact of cluster munitions that were used in the country prior to this current conflict. CMC member Landmine Action documented the humanitarian impact of cluster munitions in its 2005 report, Cluster Munitions in Lebanon. Despite ongoing clearance activities civilian deaths and injuries from cluster munitions are a reality of life in Lebanon. Over the past 40 years, the use of cluster munitions has caused a consistent and predictable pattern of humanitarian devastation both during and after conflict. National and international measures have failed to deliver protection to civilians from the indiscriminate effects of this weapon and there is growing international pressure to stop their use. Increasing international awareness of the devastating impact on civilians has placed cluster munitions under close scrutiny. Several countries have hosted seminars on these weapons during 2006, and the issue is increasingly appearing on the policy agendas of many more. Concerned countries and NGOs are now consistently raising the humanitarian impact of cluster munitions as an issue to be addressed at the meetings of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW). In response to the excessive risk to civilians, Belgium banned cluster munitions in February 2006 and Norway announced a moratorium on the weapon in June 2006. In over 20 countries around the world, thousands of civilians have been killed and injured because of the effects of cluster munitions, which spread hundreds of smaller bombs over wide areas and leave large numbers of unexploded ordnance that threaten lives and livelihoods long after conflict. The Cluster Munition Coalition repeats its call for an immediate moratorium on the use and trade of cluster munitions and the commencement of international negotiations towards a treaty on this weapon.