20 April 2010

Mauritania signs cluster bomb ban treaty

H. E. Mr. Abderrahim Ould Hadrami Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Permanent Representative of Mauritania, signs the Convention on Cluster Munitions in New York. Photo credit: UN Treaty Section(London, 20 April 2010) – Mauritania became the 106th country  to sign the Convention on Cluster Munitions at the United Nations in New York on 19 April. It is the 40th African country to join the treaty, which enters into force and becomes binding international law on 1 August.“African countries have shown their collective revulsion for cluster bombs, both by negotiating for a strong treaty and by signing it en masse,” said Thomas Nash, Coordinator of the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC). “Mauritania and other signatory countries need to ratify as soon as possible to benefit from being full States Parties when it takes effect in August. The 13 hold-outs on the continent that have not yet signed need to move quickly to get on board the ban.”Mauritania is not known to have produced, stockpiled or used cluster munitions, but the conflict over neighbouring Western Sahara from 1975-1978 left northern Mauritania contaminated by cluster munition remnants as well as other unexploded ordnance and landmines. The National Humanitarian Demining Program for Development (Programme National de Déminage Humanitaire pour le Développement, PNDHD) has told Landmine Monitor that it found cluster munition remnants around the town of Bir Mogrein in the extreme north of Mauritania, close to the border with Western Sahara. Reports of unexploded submunitions found included the Mk-118, BLU-63, and M42. Six km2 of contaminated areas have already been identified, and additional survey is planned in these areas, depending on the availability of funding.The Convention on Cluster Munitions comprehensively bans the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster munitions, sets strict deadlines for clearance of contaminated land and destruction of stockpiles of the weapon, and includes groundbreaking provisions for victim assistance.The CMC urges as many states as possible to join the Convention and attend the First Meeting of States Parties on 8-12 November 2010 in Lao PDR – the most heavily affected country.