16 September 2011

Global conference on cluster bomb ban ends with even more states pledging to join the treaty

CMC campaigners deliver the Victim's Declaration at the end of the Second Meeting of States Parties. Photo credit: John Rodsted/CMC (Beirut, 16 September 2011): The Second Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions ended in Beirut today with a strong international declaration to rid the world of cluster munitions.The 90 States Parties and signatories to the Convention at the meeting adopted the Beirut Declaration, which notes the lifesaving gains made already by the ban. It also strongly condemns the use of cluster munitions by any actor, anywhere."We acknowledge that the progress made since the First Meeting of States Parties and throughout the Oslo Process is the result of the successful partnership between States, international organizations and civil society," the Declaration says.In closing the Declaration says: "Together, we are compelled to do more, for as long as people remain at risk, to accomplish our collective goal – a world free of cluster munitions."Steve Goose, Chair of the CMC, said: "This meeting has made abundantly clear that this treaty is working. It is already making a real difference in alleviating the suffering caused by cluster munitions, and is preventing future harm."The conference in Beirut, capital of heavily cluster munition-affected Lebanon, was attended by representatives from more than 120 states and hundreds of civil society campaigners from all over the world.Amongst these were cluster bombs survivors, or families of people killed by this indiscriminate weapon, from Lao PDR, Vietnam, Serbia, Ethiopia, Lebanon, the United States and Iraq, amongst many other countries.During the meeting countries announced promising progress they’ve made against their treaty obligations, or how they intend to become full States Parties to the Convention. Amongst the most significant announcements were:

  • Swaziland’s accession to the Convention, becoming the 63rd State Party;
  • Signatories Italy, Hungary, Gambia, Cameroon, Mauritania, Czech Republic, and South Africa confirming that steps they are taking to ratify the Convention should soon be complete;
  • Slovenia has completed its stockpile destruction and major stockpilers the UK and Germany announced that they each have destroyed more than 60 per cent of their stockpiles;
  • The UK will exceed its 30million GBP commitment to funding clearance of cluster munitions between 2010-2013, and Germany will provide 700,000 Euros to clearance in Lebanon in 2012;
In addition, it appears that those States Parties contaminated by cluster munitions should finish clearance operations before the treaty’s 10-year deadline, with the exception of Lao PDR, the most heavily-affected country in the world.States also pledged to expand their victim assistance programs, although much more needs to be done. CMC cluster munition survivors issued a Victim’s Declaration calling on governments to "move beyond words and take action."Representatives from 40 countries who have not yet joined the Convention came to the conference as observers. Delegates from Malaysia, Gabon, Kiribati, Tajikistan and newly independent South Sudan all indicated that they plan to accede to the Convention.