02 November 2012

CMC Statement at the UN First Committee on Disarmament

On 1 November 2012 the Cluster Munition Coalition submitted a statement to the United Nations’ First Committee on Disarmament and International Security. It emphasized the widespread rejection of cluster munitions, and called on all states to join the Convention on Cluster Munitions. The statement was due to be delivered on 29 October 2012 but was finally submitted in writing due to delays in the First Committee schedule caused by hurricane Sandy.*****************Statement by the Cluster Munition CoalitionFirst Committee on Disarmament and International Security1 November 2012Thank you Mr/Madam Chair.I am addressing you on behalf of the Cluster Munition Coalition, a global network of hundreds of civil society organizations in some one hundred countries, dedicated to putting an end to the suffering caused by cluster munitions. We are made up of cluster munition clearance operators, human rights experts, disability groups, concerned citizens, humanitarian relief organizations, cluster munition survivors, and more. We welcome the statements of support for the Convention on Cluster Munitions made during this meeting.We are pleased to report that 111 states from every region of the world have now joined the Convention on Cluster Munitions, demonstrating widespread international rejection of the weapon. At least 42 countries that have stockpiled, produced, and/or used cluster munitions have joined the Convention, including key international and regional military powers. Several of the world’s most affected states have joined the Convention, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Lao PDR, and Lebanon. A total of 20 NATO nations have joined as well. Their participation shows that a wide variety of states with different political, economic, and security perspectives all support the cluster munition ban.We congratulate the 11 states that have become States Parties since last October: Dominican Republic, Mauritania, Cote d’Ivoire, Honduras, Sweden, Togo, Hungary, Cameroon, Switzerland, Peru and Australia.We thank Norway for hosting the successful Third Meeting of States Parties to the Convention last month. We were pleased to see a high level of participation of States Parties and signatories and, very significantly, of some 40% of the non-signatories worldwide. Next year’s Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions will be held in Zambia in September. We look forward to welcoming many new States Parties to the Convention by then, and we stand fully ready to provide assistance to this effect.The Convention entered into force just over two years ago and is already yielding remarkable results. States Parties have already collectively destroyed more than 85 million submunitions, representing 68% of their declared cluster munition stockpiles and 60% of their explosive submunitions. Every State Party to the Convention that had stockpiles has either already finished destroying them or is well on its way to completing destruction before its deadline. Fourteen States Parties and signatories have completed stockpile destruction, the most recent one being The Netherlands. Last year, clearance operations destroyed 53,000 unexploded submunitions in about 55 square kilometers of contaminated land in 10 states and two other areas, all increases from the previous year. The data, however, is known to be incomplete, so the actual figures are even higher. There has also been progress in victim assistance, notably in surveying victims and planning to meet their needs.The Convention is clearly establishing a new standard rejecting any use of the weapon—a standard that is influencing even those that have not yet joined the Convention. The small number of confirmed instances of use in recent years - Libya and Thailand in 2011 and Syria this year—were strongly condemned by many in the international community, as were the serious allegations of use by Sudan in 2012, even though none of those four states are party to the convention. We welcome the important statements of concern over use in Syria made in the past weeks by Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Mexico, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Qatar, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States, and we also appreciate Japan’s statement of concern over any use by any actor. We urge more of you to raise your voice. These reactions show the stigma against the use of the weapon is already strong. Our collective efforts to speak out against any use, by anyone, at any time will help make the stigma even stronger, as will the growing number of states that join the Convention.We believe that every country in the world can join and should join the Convention. It is a question of political will and placing a priority on the protection of civilians over out-dated weapons.For most of you who do not own the weapon and are not affected, the obligations of the convention are light. We ask you to join soon in order to add your voice to the growing norm against cluster bombs. Some of you ask why should we prioritise this treaty over domestic concerns – we urge you in solidarity with victims past, present and future to act quickly in the name of prevention. In the name of Umm Nazir who just last week lost her legs in a cluster bomb strike in Syria; in the name of Branislav who was severely injured clearing contamination in Serbia in 2000 and in the name of Raed whose son died in Lebanon on his 5th birthday.We call in particular on countries with stockpiles and former users to renounce this weapon by joining the convention. We sometimes hear the excuse that national security requirements prohibit a state from joining the convention. But it is now widely acknowledged that this weapon is outdated and counterproductive for modern militaries. Cluster munitions are also poor defensive weapons, leaving behind a large number of explosive submunitions that would endanger a state’s own population. The political cost of using cluster munitions has become very high given the convention’s powerful stigmatizing force. We also encourage affected states to join in order to benefit from the collective support the convention can bring.The Convention on Cluster Munitions stands as the sole international standard on cluster munitions. It is a comprehensive ban, and as such, is preventing untold harm to civilians. We call on all states to join this life-saving convention.Thank you.PDF version of the full statement