15 October 2008


South East Asia Regional Conference on the Convention on Cluster Munitions:  For the first time the Government of Lao PDR is hosting a regional meeting of South East Asian states to discuss the new international treaty banning cluster bombs.Governments from the most cluster-bombed region in the world will discuss how the treaty will make a difference on the ground and who is likely to sign it. The Convention on Cluster Munitions will be signed by over 100 governments in Oslo, Norway on 3 December 2008.  If signed by cluster bomb affected Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, aid for victim assistance and cluster bomb clearance in these countries should be considerably boosted.When:19th - 22nd October 2008The opening session of the conference will take place on Monday 20th October at 11:00, followed by a press conference at 12:30.Where:The conference will be held in Xieng Khouang, the most heavily cluster-bombed area of Lao PDR.Opening Session and press conference: Conference hall, Provisional government building, Xieng KhouangWho:• Around 10 governments have been invited from the region: Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and cluster bomb affected countries Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.  As well as Australia, Norway, Ireland and Japan.• Minister of Defence, Government of Lao PDR, HE Lieutenant General Douangchay Phichith• H.E. Bounkeut Sangsomsak, Vice- Minister of Foreign Affairs, Government of Lao PDR• Survivors of cluster bombs from the region.• Cluster Munition Coalition campaigners from Cambodia, Indonesia, Japan, Lao PDR, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, as well as experts from Handicap International, Human Rights Watch and other NGOs.• Master of Ceremony, Dr Maligna Saignavongs, Director of the UXO-National Regulatory Authority LAO P.D.R.• United Nations Development Programme, Ms. Sonam Yangchen Rana,Media registration:All journalists must register for the conference through the UNDP website:  www.undplao.org/CLUSTERMUNITIONS/mediainfo.phpContactNatalie Curtis, (In Laos from  October 17.  In London until October 16) +44 (0)20 7820 0222 or + 44 (0) 7515 575174, Local number tbcKerryn Clarke (In Laos): +856 (0)20 7981 702, kerryn@etlao.comSamantha Bolton (In Geneva): +41 79 239 2366, samanthabolton@gmail.comNotes to Editors:Which countries in South East Asia support the treaty?A total of six states from the region agreed to adopt the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) in Dublin on 30 May 2008: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Philippines.The problem of cluster bombs in South East Asia:According to UXO-Lao, since 1996 only 364,000 sub-munitions have been cleared in Laos by UXO Laos. According to Handicap International some 4,837 people are reported to have been killed or injured by cluster munitions, many decades after the bombing ended. Many others have been killed or injured without being recorded.Read the media advisory here:mediaadvisorylaos.pdf