01 July 2011

Landmark conference on Convention ends with hope for future progress

Lebanese Ambassador Najla Assaker, UNIDIR's Tim Caughley, Chair of CMC Steve Goose and CMC Director Laura Cheeseman brief assembled journalists on the achievements of the first ever intersessionals on the Convention. (c) Mary Wareham(Geneva, 1 July 2011) Grenada became the first country to accede to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, a highlight of an unprecedented four-day diplomatic meeting on the treaty."The first accession to the Convention is an important milestone, and is all the more significant given that Grenada is one of the countries where cluster bombs have been used," said Laura Cheeseman, Director of the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC).Grenada deposited its instrument of ratification with the United Nations on Wednesday 29 June. Since the treaty became binding international law on 1 August 2010 countries can no longer sign and then later ratify, but must undertake the one-step process of accession.Two more countries - Thailand and Cambodia - also indicated during the meeting they are taking steps to accede to the Convention in the near future."This is a remarkable development in light of the fact that Thailand fired cluster munitions into Cambodia earlier this year during a border dispute-the first use of the weapon since the ban treaty entered into force. Hearing this from Thailand and Cambodia was really encouraging, and we're hopeful this will be the first accession of many more," Cheeseman added.These announcements came during a landmark meeting on the ban held in Geneva.More than 400 diplomatic representatives from 81 countries attended the first intersessional meetings of the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions from 27-30 June 2011.They joined representatives from UN agencies, the ICRC, and a CMC delegation of 100 campaigners from 40 countries to discuss progress against the ban.The CMC and its global members have been actively engaging with the delegates throughout the meeting, urging them to advance their commitments to a world free of cluster bombs.Along with the CMC and the ICRC, seven countries condemned the recent use of cluster bombs by Thailand and Libya (Australia, Lao PDR, UK, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway and Spain).Spain acknowledged that it had transferred cluster bombs to Libya prior to signing the ban treaty, but delivered a strong statement condemning Libya's use of the weapons in light of the widespread international ban now in place.Other states gave updates on progress to implement the Convention.Albania and Zambia have cleared their land of these deadly unexploded weapons and eight countries have already completed destruction of their entire stockpiles, for which the CMC commends them (Austria, Belgium, Ecuador, Moldova, Montenegro, Norway, Portugal, and Spain).Hungary, which has not yet ratified the Convention, also announced that it had completed the destruction of its stockpiled cluster munitions.States also made significant headway this week in preparing for a global ban treaty conference being held in Lebanon, a country that has been devastated by cluster bombs, in September.More than 100 states are expected to meet in Beirut under the Presidency of Lebanon's Foreign Minister at the Second Meeting of States Parties on the Convention."The meeting in Beirut will be vital to establish what governments are doing to drive forward their obligations under this lifesaving treaty," said Cheeseman."This week we've already started to see momentum gathering around states working to rid the world of cluster bombs, which is really encouraging, and has paved the way for even more progress to be made in Beirut," she added.For more information on the intersessional meeting click here