11 October 2010
Parliamentarians urged to support international cluster bomb ban
Ahmad Arafa (Lebanese mission to the UN in Geneva), Laura Cheeseman (CMC), Jacqui Dean (New Zealand), Pete Hodgson (New Zealand) Kukeo Akhamontri (Lao PR), David Clendon (New Zealand), Abdellatif Elzein (Lebanon), Gilberte Zouein (Lebanon), and Susan B. Walker (CMC) at the IPU General Assembly in Geneva (Geneva, 8 October 2010) – Parliaments should help to promote universal adherence to the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions and swift implementation of its obligations, the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) told 1,000 parliamentarians from around 120 countries gathered in Geneva for the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s General Assembly from 4-6 October."Parliamentarians have been key allies in countries that led negotiations for the international treaty banning cluster bombs," said Laura Cheeseman, CMC Campaign Manager. "With the First Meeting of States Parties taking place next month, it’s a key moment for more parliamentarians to press their governments to join and implement the ban."The CMC and the New Zealand parliamentary delegation held briefing sessions to urge parliamentarians to advocate nationally on the Convention, and parliamentarians from Lao PDR and Lebanon, both of which are heavily affected by cluster munition contamination, urged parliamentarians to actively encourage their governments to get on board the Convention, which entered into force on 1 August 2010. Since it opened for signature in Oslo in December 2008, 108 countries have signed and 42 have ratified.Kukeo Akhamontri, vice chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of Lao PDR’s National Assembly, spoke on the impact of cluster munitions in his country and urged all parliamentarians to ensure their governments’ adherence to the Convention. Akhamontri’s home province Savannakhet is among the most severely contaminated by cluster munition use in the 1960s and 1970s in Lao PDR. Akhamontri also urged all states to join the Convention and take part in the First Meeting of States Parties that will take place in the Laotian capital Vientiane from 9-12 November 2010.Abdellatif Elzein, a senator from the Lebanon’s National Assembly, spoke about the impact cluster bomb use had on his country and in influencing treaty negotiations. Elzein urged all MPs to ensure that governments ratify and accede to the ban treaty as ‘the Convention will change people’s lives’, adding that Lebanon has recently completed the domestic process to approve ratification of the Convention. He thanked Lao PDR for hosting the First Meeting of States Parties and announced that Lebanon is offering to host the second meeting in 2011.At the IPU assembly, CMC representatives distributed information and spoke with parliamentarians from more than 40 countries encouraging them to join the CMC’s informal network – the Parliamentary Friends of the CMC – and advocate in support of the Convention.