14 September 2012

More countries plan to join lifesaving cluster bomb ban

Global conference ends with promise to strengthen stigma against deadly weapon CMC Director Laura Cheeseman and part of the CMC's delegation of 150 campaigners listening to states speak at the 3MSP. Photo credit: Stephane de Greef / CMC(Oslo, Norway, 15 September 2012): The third annual global meeting on the ground-breaking treaty to ban cluster bombs has ended with news that many states that have not yet joined the treaty plan to do so soon.Thirty-one of the countries that have not yet signed the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions (almost 40 per cent) attended the meeting, and more than a dozen voiced their strong support for the aims of the ban, with some indicating their intention to join.Several states that have signed but not yet ratified the Convention announced that they would do so in the near future, including Benin, Chad, Jamaica and Peru.“It has been heartening to hear that even though some countries have not joined the Convention yet, these states support this lifesaving ban and can clearly see the strength of the global norm it has built,” said Laura Cheeseman, Director of the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC).This vital progress was made all the more significant by the news of the death of another Serbian deminer while clearing unexploded cluster bombs close to the border with Kosovo yesterday.“The tragic news from Serbia yesterday shone a clear light, once again, on the indiscriminate and lethal nature of these weapons, and why it is therefore vital they are banned by all countries and never used again, under any circumstances,” said CMC spokesperson Branislav Kapetanovic of Serbia, a former deminer injured by cluster munitions.Among those indicating that they may join soon were Gabon, South Sudan, Sudan, Suriname and Tajikistan. Two of the word’s most heavily cluster bomb-affected countries, Cambodia and Vietnam, have not yet joined the treaty, but both spoke in favour of it this week. Cambodia said it was “only a matter of time” before they joined the ban, and Vietnam expressed strong support for the humanitarian call for the ban.Morocco, which has used cluster munitions in the past, said it is in de-facto compliance with the ban treaty, and respects the global norm this ban has created. Libya – which joined the discussion on the cluster bomb ban for the first time, and which is contaminated by cluster munitions after forces loyal to Gaddafi used them in Misrata during last year’s conflict – said it was committed to the aims of the Convention.In less positive news, concerns were expressed by the International Committee of the Red Cross, the United Nations and some governments about legislation tabled by some states to implement the ban nationally.The CMC condemned recent Australian legislation as inconsistent with the Convention, and called on Canada to revise Bill S-10, which the Canadian government hopes to pass soon, calling it weak and full of loopholes that would threaten to allow Canadian military personnel to assist in the use of cluster munitions in ways that contravene the ban treaty.More than 120 governments gathered in Oslo for the Third Meeting of States Parties, as well as 150 campaigners from dozens of countries. Norway served as President of the meeting, a role it will fulfil for the rest of the year.The Oslo Progress Report that was the major outcome of the meeting documented the impressive success of this Convention, including the destruction of 750,000 cluster munitions containing more than 85 million submunitions – more than 60 per cent of stockpiles declared by States Parties.Zambia was announced as the next President of the Convention and pledged to bring all Africa on board.The growing strength of the ban was further illustrated by the following:

  • Most countries are on track to clear their cluster munition-contaminated land within their treaty deadlines;
  • Research by CMC national member Norwegian People’s Aid highlighting how to increase efficiency in clearance of unexploded cluster munitions;
  • Many countries are rapidly destroying their stockpiled cluster munitions, with more than 60 per cent of all States Parties’ declared stockpiles – 750,000 cluster munitions containing more than 85 million submunitions – already destroyed;
  • The announcement from the Netherlands that they destroyed the last of their stockpiled cluster bombs, from the UK that 70 per cent of their stockpile has been destroyed and from Germany that two-thirds has been destroyed;
  • Grenada announced a survey has shown it is not contaminated by cluster bombs;
  • Guatemala announced that strong new national legislation was an enacted last week to implement the cluster bomb ban;
  • Samoa also announced new legislation.
Pdf version of the full closing press release.