30 May 2012

Africa unites against cluster bombs

Delegates stand for the Ghanaian national anthem at the opening of the Accra Regional Conference. Photo credit: CMC Regional meeting concludes with strong Accra Action Plan(Accra, 30 May 2012): A meeting to further the global fight against cluster bombs held in Accra, Ghana this week resulted in 34 African countries adopting an action plan with the ultimate aim of a cluster munition-free Africa.The Accra Universalisation Action Plan lays out practical steps states should take to promote and achieve continent-wide membership of the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions, which comprehensively prohibits the use, production, stockpiling, and transfer of these weapons.  The document reaffirms the partnership between states, the UN, and civil society to achieve the goals of the treaty and ensure it is fully implemented at the national level.“Africa has been motivated by putting an end to the devastating harm these weapons cause to civilians wherever they have been used, and for this reason it has been a pioneering continent in banning cluster bombs,” said Ms. Afi Yakubu from the Foundation for Security and Development (FOSDA), the Cluster Munition Coalition’s national member in Ghana.“This week African countries have urged each other to unite and lead the way in ensuring all governments in the region join this treaty. We are pleased with the commitments we have heard,” Yakubu added.Signatories Cameroon and Togo announced that their governments have approved ratification of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, and will take the final step of depositing the ratification with the UN within weeks.Uganda, where thousands of people are living with injuries caused by lethal explosive remnants of war like cluster bombs, also announced plans to ratify the treaty before states meet again in Oslo in September for the third annual global meeting of States Parties.Countries in attendance overwhelmingly voiced clear support for the universalisation of the treaty. Fellow signatories Benin, Chad, the Gambia, and South Africa also said that they hope to ratify soon. In another positive move Mauritius, which has not yet joined the treaty, said its National Humanitarian Law Committee will soon consider whether it can accede to the Convention’s terms.“CMC campaigners from across Africa at the meeting this week are strongly encouraged by all of these positive announcements,” said Dr. Robert Mtonga, CMC member from IPPNW in Zambia.“We will continue to work in partnership with governments and hold them to the strong commitments they made this week,” he added.On the back of media reports last week of new cluster munition use in Sudan, the Cluster Munition Coalition renewed calls on the Sudanese government to investigate and urged it to join the ban convention.A total of 34 African states took part in the conference including three that have not yet signed or ratified the Convention (Eritrea, Mauritius and Zimbabwe).  Another 18 African countries that have signed, but still need to ratify also attended, as well as 13 full States Parties.CMC Press Release - Africa unites against cluster bombsCMC Press Release (French) - L’Afrique s’unit contre les sous-munitionsCMC conference webpage Media contactsKate Wiggans (in Geneva)Media & Communications Manager ICBL-CMCEmail: kate@icblcmc.orgMobile (Geneva): +41 78 685 1146Amy Little (in Ghana)CMC Campaign ManagerEmail : amy@icblcmc.orgMobile (Ghana): +233 268 926 068Robert Mtonga (in Ghana)CMC Governance Board Member, IPPNW ZambiaEmail: robertmtonga@yahoo.co.ukMobile (Ghana): +233 240 335 150Theodora W Anti (in Ghana)Foundation for Security and Development in Africa (Ghana)Email: theodora@fosda.netMobile (Ghana): +233 243 203 060Notes to editors:Of the 49 Sub-Saharan African states (countries in bold attended the meeting in Accra):•    19 are States Parties:  Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cape Verde, Comoros, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Lesotho, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Swaziland and Zambia•    22 are signatories and still need to ratify: Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Djibouti, the Gambia, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, South Africa, Somalia, Tanzania, Togo and Uganda•    8 have not yet joined the Convention: Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Mauritius, South Sudan, Sudan, and ZimbabweTo view detailed information on cluster munition contamination, casualties, clearance and ban policy in every country in the world visit the Cluster Munition Monitor Country ProfilesConference Website CMC on FacebookCMC on TwitterCMC on Flickr