06 November 2010

Lebanon ratifies cluster bomb ban

H. E. Mr. Nawaf Salam, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Permanent Representative of Lebanon, deposits Lebanon's instrument of ratification at the United Nations. Photo credit: UN PhotoMore Middle Eastern countries should join ban treaty(London, 5 November 2010) – Lebanon’s ratification of the international treaty banning cluster munitions on 5 November should benefit the many Lebanese survivors of the weapon and enhance ongoing efforts to clear contaminated land, the Cluster Munition Coalition said today. Lebanon is the 46th country to ratify the treaty, which entered into force as binding international law on 1 August. “Cluster munition victims in Lebanon have been waiting for this day, because it solidifies the Lebanese government’s commitment to helping them and eradicating the threat posed by the weapon,” said Habbouba Aoun, Coordinator of the Landmines Resource Centre in Beirut, a CMC steering committee member. “More countries in the Middle East should get on board and ban this indiscriminate weapon.”Lebanon joins other severely affected countries like Lao PDR that had an influential role in the “Oslo Process” to negotiate the Convention on Cluster Munitions and is now among the States Parties helping to shape how the treaty is implemented. Globally, 108 countries have signed, including a majority of former producers and users of the weapon as well as affected states. Although cluster munitions have been used in several countries in the Middle East and North Africa, Tunisia is the only other country in the region to have ratified the treaty. Iraq – another contaminated country – has signed but not yet ratified.Southern Lebanon is contaminated with unexploded submunitions left over from Israeli cluster munition strikes in 1978, 1982 and 2006. In August 2006, the Israel Defense Forces fired millions of submunitions into southern Lebanon, leaving behind hundreds of thousands of deadly duds in many populated areas.Four years later, unexploded remnants of this war continue to injure and kill civilians. On 25 October 2010, Agence France-Presse reported that a deminer was killed and four others were injured when a cluster submunition exploded in Yater, near the coastal town of Tyre. On 25 July, according to media reports a 9-year-old boy was severely injured when a cluster submunition exploded in Shaqra village in southern Lebanon. On 4 June, 33-year-old police officer Hassan Mohammed Rammal died following a cluster submunition explosion in the village of Doueir in southern Lebanon on 31 May.Cluster submunitions have been identified as the cause of at least 690 casualties since 1975.The CMC welcomes Lebanon’s bid to host the Second Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions in 2011, as holding diplomatic meetings in affected countries highlights the reality of the problem and gives the most-affected states a leading role in putting the treaty to work.“Lebanon’s ratification shows that states with very complex security situations can ban cluster bombs, even when their neighbours stockpile the weapon and refuse to join the treaty,” said Thomas Nash, CMC Coordinator.The CMC encourages all states to participate in the treaty’s upcoming First Meeting of States Parties, from 9-12 November in Lao PDR, the world’s most cluster-bombed country. At this key meeting, more than 100 governments will be joined by UN agencies, international organisations and civil society and survivors under the banner of the CMC to hammer out plans to implement the treaty.