23 September 2011

Italy ratifies cluster bomb ban

Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Vincenzo Scotti deposits Italy's ratification instrument at the United Nations in New York. Photo credit: United Nations Italy ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 21 September – global Peace Day – becoming the 65th State Party to the international treaty.Italy is the fourth country in less than two weeks to join the lifesaving Convention.Giuseppe Schiavello from Campagna Italiana Contro le Mines said: "It’s great news that Italy has joined the growing list of countries dedicated to stopping the harm done by this weapon. It shows that even big producers and stockpilers of cluster munitions are now willing to embracethe humanitarian principles that drive this treaty, and work together for a safer world."Italy is a stockpiler and former producer of cluster munitions. It is not known if Italy has exported cluster munitions, but it is now legally bound to halt immediately all use, production, and trade, of the weapon, and to destroy its stocks "as soon as possible" but no later than eight years after joining.Italy is also bound by the Convention not to assist any other states, including its NATO allies, to take part in any act prohibited by the treaty. Sixteen out of the 28 NATO countries are now States Parties to the Convention."Cluster bombs should never be used again in a NATO operation," said Amy Little, Campaign Manager for the CMC. "We hope the remaining NATO countries will join the Convention soon, and will respect the humanitarian standards this treaty protects, " Little added.Prior to its ratification, Italy enacted a law to implement the Convention's provisions. Law No. 95 contains penal sanctions for violations of the convention’s prohibitions as well as fines. It includes a ban on "financing of the production, use, repair, promotion, sale, distribution, import, export, storage, possession, or transport of antipersonnel mines and cluster bombs and submunitions."Italy participated in the Oslo Process that initiated the convention from the beginning. Its position evolved significantly from 2006 to 2008 and it signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions in Oslo on 3 December 2008.Italian representatives were also in Beirut earlier this month for the Second Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, where they announced the welcome news that they were ready to complete ratification.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.Italy will formally become a State Party on 1 March 2012 after the waiting period mandated by the treaty.