11 August 2011

CMC launches countdown to Beirut

Women deminers carry gear to their work site in South Lebanon. Photo credit: Mariella Furrer One month until Second Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster MunitionsFive years after millions of cluster bomblets were dropped on southern Lebanon, the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) is remembering victims of cluster bombs worldwide, and calling on countries to join and implement the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions which bans the weapons and lays out a framework to assist communities already affected by them.Today also marks one month until Lebanon will host and preside over a global meeting in Beirut from 12-16 September 2011 to advance the work being done to adhere to the treaty and prevent further lives from being destroyed as a result of these indiscriminate weapons.Lebanon is an appropriate location for this meeting. It was the extensive use of cluster bombs in Lebanon in August 2006 that contributed to the sense of humanitarian urgency that underpinned the diplomatic ‘Oslo Process’ and galvanised governments into banning these weapons.The UN estimates that four million cluster bomblets were dropped by Israel on Lebanon’s rural south in August 2006, a quarter of these weapons failed to explode on impact. As is the case in almost every country where cluster munitions have been used, these weapons killed and injured civilians both during strikes and long afterward. They still continue to pose a lethal threat years after the conflict ended, denying people access to land and hampering development. Cluster submunitions have been identified as the cause of at least 690 civilian casualties in Lebanon, over half of which occurred since 2006.By holding this diplomatic meeting in an affected countries like Lebanon, and Lao PDR which hosted a global meeting on the Convention last year, it highlights the reality of the problem and gives the most heavily affected countries a leading role in putting the treaty to work."Governments who come to this meeting and visit the communities in my country where these weapons pose a daily danger cannot fail to understand how important it is that they act on their promises to rid the world of these ruthless weapons. I hope that by seeing the real impact of cluster bombs delegates will join us in encouraging every state to sign up to this lifesaving ban," said Habbouba Aoun, of the Landmine Resource Centre in Lebanon, and a member of the Cluster Munition Coalition.At the Beirut meeting, States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions will give progress updates on implementing their treaty obligations including the destruction of stockpiles, clearance of contaminated land and the provision of assistance to affected communities, and will take key decisions on items including the structures to support the implementation and universalisation of the Convention. States that have not yet joined the Convention will also be present to give updates on steps they are taking towards joining. Meetings of States Parties will be held annually at least until the first Review Conference in 2015 – five years after the Convention’s entry into force."We expect states to come to Beirut with serious, practical plans to implement the treaty, helping to save even more lives and ensure that those most affected get the assistance they need," said Laura Cheeseman, director of the Cluster Munition Coalition.Last November at the First Meeting of States Parties on the treaty held in Lao PDR, another country that has been devastated by cluster bombs, states agreed to a 66-point plan to take concrete steps to implement the treaty."The Convention on Cluster Munitions is the framework for solving this problem and this meeting is the chance to report back on progress made since states gathered in Lao PDR to show the world what is being done to stop the destruction this weapon brings to people’s lives," Cheeseman said.