25 August 2011

Cook Islands ratifies cluster bomb ban

The Cook Islands signs the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 3 December 2008 in Oslo, Norway. Photo credit: Gunnar Mjaugedal The Cook Islands ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 23 August 2011, becoming the 61st State Party."We welcome this positive step by the Cook Islands just weeks before governments will gather in Beirut to discuss implementation of this life saving treaty," said Ema Tagicakibau of the Pacific Foundation for Women’s Advancement, a Fiji-based member organisation of the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC). "We now urge all remaining Pacific States to get on board the ban and attend the upcoming meeting in Lebanon." Seven Pacific Island Forum members have signed the Convention (Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, Nauru, New Zealand and Palau and Samoa), four of which have ratified, thus becoming full States Parties: the Cook Islands, Fiji, New Zealand and Samoa.The 2008 Convention comprehensively bans the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster munitions, sets strict deadlines for clearance of contaminated areas and destruction of stockpiles of the weapon, and includes ground-breaking provisions for assistance to victims and affected communities. A total of 109 countries have joined the treaty, which entered into force as binding international law on 1 August 2010. The Convention’s Second Meeting of States Parties is scheduled to take place from 12-16 September 2011 in Beirut, Lebanon, a country which has significant cluster bomb contamination.The Cook Islands participated in the Oslo Process that established the Convention and supported efforts to establish a strong treaty text during the formal negotiations in Dublin in May 2008. The Cook Islands has not used, produced, or stockpiled cluster munitions.The Cook Islands will formally become a State Party on 1 February 2012 after the waiting period mandated by the treaty.