23 April 2010

Campaigners start countdown to cluster bomb ban

Convention on Cluster Munitions due to take effect on 1 August 2010(London, 23 April 2010) – Campaigners worldwide are stepping up pressure on governments to join the Convention on Cluster Munitions in the final 100 days before it becomes binding international law, the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) said today as it launched a countdown to 1 August, when the treaty enters into force.  “With just 100 days left before the Convention on Cluster Munitions takes effect, we are calling on all governments to seize the opportunity to get on board the cluster bomb ban by signing and ratifying the Convention,” said Laura Cheeseman, Campaign Manager of the CMC. “Around the world, campaigners are drumming up support through a range of actions aimed at counting down to entry into force, when we will celebrate a momentous humanitarian achievement.”Hundreds of civil society organisations are expected to participate in the 100-day countdown, carrying out campaign actions to urge governments to sign and ratify the Convention, and to raise awareness about its potentially profound impact on civilians and affected communities. Activities include press conferences, workshops, marches, exhibitions, and creative outreach. Many actions include the central theme of drumming to make some noise about the entry into force of the most significant disarmament and humanitarian treaty in more than a decade.The Convention comprehensively bans the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster munitions, requires clearance of contaminated land within 10 years, destruction of stockpiled cluster munitions within eight years, and includes groundbreaking provisions for victim assistance. Since it was opened for signature in Oslo in December 2008, a total of 106 countries have signed the Convention and 30 have ratified – among them are former users, producers and stockpilers of cluster bombs, as well as countries affected by the weapon.“With so many states already on board this treaty, cluster bombs have been stigmatised to the point where nobody should ever want to use them again. There’s really no excuse for countries not to join,” said Youen Sam En, a Cambodian who lost his eyesight and both of his hands in a cluster bomb incident near the border with Lao PDR. “Affected countries like Cambodia have a special incentive to join, because it will mean that communities affected by these weapons get the help they need and the land gets cleared of unexploded bombies.”During each week of the 100-day countdown, CMC campaigners will conduct targeted actions urging specific non-signatory countries to sign the Convention. Current plans are to start with Cambodia on 26 April, followed by: Tajikistan (3 May), Vietnam (10 May), Brazil (17 May), Jordan (24 May), Argentina (31 May), Serbia (7 June), Grenada (14 June), Bangladesh (21 June), Papua New Guinea (28 June), Sudan (5 July), Slovakia (12 July), Morocco (19 July), and Thailand (26 July).After 1 August, treaty obligations become legally binding for all states that have ratified, and campaigners will urge as many governments as possible to participate in the First Meeting of States Parties from 8-12 November in Lao PDR, the most cluster bomb-contaminated country in the world. All states are welcome to attend this meeting, regardless of whether or not they have signed or ratified the treaty.