23 September 2011

Czech Republic becomes 66th State Party to cluster bomb ban

H. E. Mr. Karel Schwarzenberg Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs deposits his country's ratification instrument at the United Nations in New York. Photo credit: United Nations The Czech Republic has become the 66th State Party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.The NATO and EU member state deposited its instrument of ratification at a UN treaty event in New York on 22 September.The Convention has now gained five new States Parties in just over two weeks including two NATO members and cluster munition stockpilers (Italy and the Czech Republic) and one country contaminated by the weapon (Afghanistan)."The momentum that this treaty is gathering is really impressive, and it is going to be increasingly hard for those states that have not yet joined to ignore this," said Amy Little, CMC Campaign Manager.The Czech Republic is not believed to have used or produced cluster munitions, but it stockpiled them.The Czech Republic participated in the Oslo Process that created the convention and its position evolved over time to support the comprehensive prohibition on cluster munitions. The Czech Republic signed the Convention in Oslo on 3 December 2008. Legislation to implement the Convention, Law No. 213, was signed into law by President Vaclav Klaus on 21 June 2011.It announced at the First Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions in Vientiane, Lao PDR in November 2010that it had already completed the destruction of its stockpile, even prior to ratifying.Czech representatives also attended the convention’s first intersessional meetings in Geneva in June 2011 and the Second Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions held in Beirut earlier this month.It participated in the Oslo Process that created the convention and signed the Convention in December 2008.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 111 countries have joined the treaty, which entered into force as binding international law on 1 August 2010.The Czech Republic will formally become a State Party on 1 March 2012 after the waiting period mandated by the treaty.Seventeen of the 28 NATO countries that are States Parties to the Convention, and another three have signed but not yet ratified. All States Parties and signatories are legally bound not to use, produce, or transfer cluster munitions. Crucially, the treaty also prohibits them from assisting others states with these banned activities."The small number of NATO states that have not joined the Convention, most notably the United States, should realize that they are in a quickly dwindling minority amongst their military colleagues and should get on board the ban," said Little.