18 April 2012

Working together for a world free of cluster bombs

Clearance demonstration on a field trip to Xieng Khouang, Lao PDR during the First Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Photo credit: Stefano Chiolo/CMC (Geneva, 18 April 2012) Yesterday at the global meeting on progress being made against the Convention on Cluster Munitions, states home to communities living in the shadow of unexploded cluster bombs gave updates on how the treaty forges increased clearance of this lethal threat.With a decade to clear all unexploded cluster bombs, the CMC was happy to hear that all but the most heavily contaminated States Parties are on track to clear all their land within the deadline – moving closer each year to a world truly free of this terrible weapon.CMC campaigners at the Geneva conference also heard from other states dedicated to helping them remove this threat.Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Lao PDR, and Lebanon – all of which are affected by cluster bombs – gave updates on their situations. Cambodia, which is also heavily affected by cluster munitions but which has not yet joined the Convention, again said they are considering accession to the Convention.CMC campaigner Atle Karlsen from Norwegian People’s Aid based in Lao PDR, the world’s most heavily cluster bomb-affected country, said: "All countries in the world, with the exception of those that have extreme contamination, should be able to meet their clearance obligations within five years, well in advance of the deadline set by the treaty. Even Lao PDR, a country where the threat from unexploded cluster bombs is sometimes thought to be insurmountable, should be hopeful that with proper survey methods in place and continued support for clearance work it will be able to clear all its land."In the afternoon delegates turned their focus to how countries can assist each other and cooperate to end the suffering caused by cluster munitions. Norway, who will host the Third Meeting of States Parties from 11-14 September in Oslo highlighted that all states should be in a position to help each other meet this treaty’s aims.There was widespread agreement among speakers that assistance does not only include funding but also capacity building, education, technical cooperation, the sharing of good practices, and other non-financial activities. Cambodia, Croatia, Lebanon, Madagascar, and South Africa explained how they provide technical support, expertise or training to other affected states and reiterated offers of support to states in need.The afternoon’s session was co-chaired by Ignacio Cartagena from Spain and Tonie Jaquez from Mexico who summed up by reminding delegates of the importance of the meetings of the Convention, "Intersessional meetings such as this one are a platform for us to make contacts and network so that we can ensure cooperation to achieve the goals of this treaty. It’s crucial that we ensure the time spent together translates into cooperation and assistance projects resulting from contacts made in the meetings"