06 September 2012

Impressive Progress on Total Ban on Cluster Bombs: Rapid destruction of stockpiles is saving lives

Hisham Delbani from Norwegian People's Aid Lebanon with cluster munition remnants in Lebanon 2011. Photo credit: Kassim Gahosseain / Norwegian People's Aid Lebanon.(London, 6 September 2012): Governments that have joined the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions have destroyed nearly 750,000 cluster munitions containing 85 million submunitions to date, according to Cluster Munition Monitor 2012, a global report released today in London.“The impressive number of stockpiled cluster bombs destroyed under the Convention on Cluster Munitions demonstrates just how committed governments are to rapidly implementing this treaty,” said Mary Wareham of Human Rights Watch, final editor of Cluster Munition Monitor 2012.  “It is proving to be a milestone in humanitarian disarmament diplomacy, and the hold-out states that have not yet joined need to get on the right side of history,” Wareham said.Cluster Munition Monitor 2012 is being launched by the international Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) in advance of the convention’s Third Meeting of States Parties, which opens in Oslo, Norway on Tuesday, 11 September. A total of 111 countries have joined the Convention, of which 75 have ratified or acceded, becoming full States Parties.The report cites the serious allegations of new use of cluster munitions in Syria and Sudan as the most disturbing developments of the year. The allegations have not yet been confirmed, but are considered credible by the Monitor. Neither state has joined the ban convention.The Convention on Cluster Munitions, which entered into force on 1 August 2010, comprehensively prohibits the use, production, transfer, and stockpiling of cluster munitions. It also requires destruction of stockpiled cluster munitions within eight years, clearance of cluster munition remnants within 10 years, and assistance to victims, including those killed or injured by submunitions as well as their families and affected communities.According to the report:•    In 2011 alone, 10 States Parties destroyed stockpiles of more than 107,000 munitions and 17.6 million submunitions;•    Overall, States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions have destroyed nearly 750,000 cluster munitions containing 85.8 million submunitions, representing more than 60 per cent of all declared stockpiles;•    More than 48,000 unexploded submunitions were destroyed during clearance operations of some 55km2 of area across 10 states and two other areas in 2011;•    Three countries acceded and 15 signatories ratified the ban convention, becoming States Parties, in 2011, while eight more signatories ratified in 2012.  New States Parties include former cluster munition producers Italy, Sweden, and Switzerland;•    Three states enacted national legislation to implement the ban convention (Cook Islands, Czech Republic, and Italy) in 2011, while another three did so in the first half of 2012 (Hungary, Sweden, and Switzerland); in total, 18 states have adopted implementing legislation;•    At least 55 new cluster munition casualties were confirmed in Cambodia, Iraq, Lao PDR, Lebanon, and Sudan, as well as Western Sahara, in 2011.In addition, the report finds that:•    Major stockpilers including the Netherlands, the UK, Sweden, Italy, Japan, and Germany have indicated they will complete their stockpile destruction years in advance of the convention’s eight-year deadline;•    Thirteen of the 24 countries still contaminated by cluster munitions have signed or ratified the convention and significant clearance work is underway in most contaminated States Parties, such as heavily affected Lao PDR and Lebanon;•    Cluster munition casualties have been reported in 30 countries, including 16 states that have signed or ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions.The report shows that the vast majority of countries that have not yet joined the convention are acting consistently with its provisions. All countries are invited to attend the Third Meeting of States Parties of the Convention on Cluster Munitions in Oslo, regardless of whether they have signed or ratified the Convention.“This report clearly demonstrates that the Convention on Cluster Munitions is already achieving its aim to stop the suffering caused by cluster munitions. We urge all states to join this important convention and engage in its work,” said Laura Cheeseman, Director of the Cluster Munition Coalition, the civil society campaign working for universalization and implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions.“Every country must contribute to the eradication of these weapons if it is committed to preventing civilian harm during and after armed conflict,” Cheeseman said.The report details the failed attempt in November 2011 by the United States and some other countries to create a weak new protocol to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) that would have allowed continued use of many cluster munitions known to cause unacceptable harm to civilians.This is the third Cluster Munition Monitor report. It is the sister publication to the Landmine Monitor report, which has been issued annually since 1999. Cluster Munition Monitor reviews cluster munition ban policy as well as use, production, trade, and stockpiling in every country in the world. It also includes information on cluster munition contamination and casualties, as well as clearance and victim assistance. Baseline data is available in online Country Profiles, while the overviews provide global analysis and findings. The report focuses on calendar year 2011, with information included up to July 2012 when possible.Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor is coordinated by an Editorial Board comprised of five non-governmental organizations: Action on Armed Violence, Handicap International, Human Rights Watch, Mines Action Canada, and Norwegian People’s Aid. Created in June 1998 by the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), 1997 Nobel Peace Prize co-laureate, the Monitor now serves as the research arm of both the ICBL and the Cluster Munition Coalition.EndsFor more information or to schedule an interview, contact:•    Kate Wiggans, ICBL-CMC Media and Communications Manager, London (BST), Mobile +41-78-685-11-46 or email kate@icblcmc.org•    Kathryn Millett, Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor Coordinator, London (BST), Mobile +41-79-455-55-27 or email kathryn@icblcmc.org