10 September 2012


Daniel Ivic taking part in a field visit to land contaminated with cluster bombs in Lao PDR, 2010 (c) PPPS(Oslo, 8 September 2012) With less than 24 hours to go until the Third Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions (3MSP) in Oslo, Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) campaigners from all over the world are gathering in the Norwegian capital to prepare for the conference.At this meeting, hosted and presided over by Norway, countries and campaigners come together to advance the efforts being made to universalise the ban treaty and prevent further lives from being ruined by these indiscriminate weapons. In the run up to the meeting, the CMC is profiling the work of some of our global campaigners, who are striving to ensure that governments confirm their attendance and participation in Oslo, and more importantly, that they come prepared to make real progress on the cluster munitions issue. It is now that our call on countries to join and implement the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) must be heard louder than ever.One of these campaigners is Daniel Ivic, from Serbia, was injured by a cluster munition himself, and now campaigns with two Serbian civil society organisations to help rid the world, and his country, of these indiscriminate weapons.Involved with the movement since the 2007 Belgrade Conference on States Affected by Cluster Munitions, Danijel travelled to Laos for the First Meeting of States Parties to the CCM in 2010. "For me, this was something really special, and the field trip to Xieng Khouang in particular," he says. "Being there gave me a stronger feeling of solidarity and connection with other people that have been suffering the effects of cluster bombs. Seeing the impact this visit had on the faces of the diplomats that came along gave me new energy and focus."Two years on, and Serbia remains a non-signatory to the Convention, despite being both significantly contaminated by cluster munitions, and a stockpiler. Danijel and fellow campaigners remain just as motivated. With cluster bomb casualties in Serbia numbering in the hundreds, preventing further harm is what drives him. "My most sincere wish is for no one to ever have to go through what I had to go through," he says. However, last month two Serbian soldiers were killed whilst clearing contaminated land in the south of the country – the deadly legacy of NATO’s bombing campaign during the 1998 – 1999 Kosovo conflict, which hit 16 municipalities across Serbia and left 88,000 living in the immediate vicinity of a suspected hazardous area, exposed to daily risk.Danijel spoke out after this accident, saying he was devastated. "Words are not enough to express the sadness of all of us who understand how absurd and unnecessary these men’s deaths were. We cannot help but feel bitter at the thought that maybe this somehow would have been avoided if only the country had joined the treaty earlier, if the State had taken steps in time to conduct clearance in a more systematic way, and didn’t have to send army deminers on ad hoc tasks like that one. Maybe then these men would have been today with their young families."By joining the treaty, Serbia would also be obliged to destroy its stockpile of cluster munitions, thought to be large, and to include air-delivered cluster bombs, ground-launched rockets, and artillery projectiles, according to the Cluster Munition Monitor. Preventing the proliferation of these weapons is critical, in order to eliminate any potential future usage and avoid their fatal consequences.Indeed this accident took place on 1 August, the anniversary of the entry into force of the cluster bomb ban, which is marked worldwide by CMC campaigners. "1 August events from the previous two years have been very positive and empowering," Danijel commented, highlighting the contrast with this poignant, preventable tragedy.It is this same empowerment that Danijel hopes will resonate with his country next week in Oslo. "Show Serbia the way," is his call to the governments attending the meeting. "Encourage Serbia, and other non-signatories to get on board. You can put pressure on them to join this Convention." And to his own government, his message is simply "Join in. Make a move. And put a stop to further injuries and suffering."See Daniel speaking at a press conference in Belgrade at the Entry Into Force of the CCM in August 2010.