15 April 2008

20 Latin American Countries Meet To Ban Cluster Bombs

Download Media AdvisoryGovernments from throughout Latin America and the Caribbean will meet to galvanise the regional determination to ban cluster bombs. The aim of the meeting is to allow Latin American countries to exchange views on the most controversial aspects of the forthcoming treaty and to promote the widest possible representation from the region at the Dublin Diplomatic Conference on Cluster Munitions from May 19-30 where a historic ban will be negotiated and concluded. The Mexico meeting is part of the so called Oslo Process launched in February 2007 and will take place from the 16th to the 17th of April in Mexico City.Latin American countries have taken a strong stand on securing a treaty that will not only ban the USE, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster bombs, but also provide support for survivors and clearance of their land. Preventing proliferation of these deadly weapons is a key concern for a region where four countries (Brazil, Chile, Cuba and Peru) have stockpiles and where conflict is unfortunately never far from the horizon.In a joint press release dated 11 April, the Presidents of Mexico, Felipe Calderón, and Ecuador, Rafael Correa, confirmed their engagement in the process to ban cluster munitions declaring that “Aware of the serious humanitarian consequences of the use of cluster munitions (…) we decided to strengthen the efforts of Ecuador and Mexico in international fora, especially in the Diplomatic Conference of Dublin which will be held next May. We reiterate our decision to continue our work to achieve a cluster munition-free zone in Latin America and the Caribbean.”Of the three countries in Latin America to have produced cluster munitions only Brazil has not renounced future production, with Argentina and Chile announcing an end to production last year and Argentina having destroyed its stockpiles. Brazil appears to have warmed to the Oslo process in recent months but has not yet confirmed its attendance at the Mexico conference. Argentina, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and Paraguay have been particularly strong in calling or a comprehensive ban on cluster munitions. Peru and Costa Rica have played a leading role in the process by hosting an international and regional conference respectively as part of the Oslo Process.In the Latin America region, cluster munitions have only been used in the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) in 1982.