03 December 2013

Thousands of civilian lives being saved by the Convention on Cluster Munitions

(London, December 3, 2013) – Thousands of civilian lives are being saved by the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions since it opened for signature five years ago today, said the Cluster Munition Coalition.Five years on from the signing conference of the convention in Oslo on 3 December 2008, more half the world’s nations have already joined the treaty, creating a powerful global stigma against the use of this indiscriminate weapon.

Cluster bombs have caused excessive harm to civilians in every conflict in which they have been used and continue to kill and maim long after a conflict has ended. As a result of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, stockpiles of the weapon are being destroyed in record numbers, hundreds of km2 of land has been cleared and states party to the convention are legally obliged to provide victims with adequate assistance.

The majority of countries with recorded victims of cluster munitions have now joined the convention."The 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions continues to go from strength to strength, saving thousands of lives and limbs both during and after conflict. States that prioritise the protection of civilians should join the convention without delay" said Sarah Blakemore, Cluster Munition Coalition Director.The Convention on Cluster Munitions is the result of a partnership of like-minded governments, civil society, UN agencies and international organisations.

One hundred and seven states adopted the Convention in 2008 recognising that protection of civilians must be prioritised and military utility was questionable. It entered into force on 1st August 2010, and comprehensively prohibits the use of cluster munitions as well as requiring clearance of cluster munition remnants, destruction of stockpiles, as well as assistance for victims.

A total of 113 countries have now signed or acceded to the convention and seven signatories have ratified in the past year, including two countries where cluster munitions have been used (Chad and Iraq) and one cluster munition stockpiler (Peru). Most of the remaining 29 signatories are in the process of ratifying. Two countries have also acceded to the treaty in 2013. States Parties have collectively destroyed 71% of their stockpiled cluster munitions since the Convention became international law just over three years ago and last year destroyed a total of 173,973 cluster munitions and 27 million submunitions—the most in a year since the convention’s adoption.In 2012, more than 59,171 unexploded submunitions were destroyed during clearance of almost 78km2 of land, 40% more land than the previous year.When cluster munitions have been used, states have faced widespread international condemnation whether or not they are part of the Convention, with more than 123 states speaking out against use of the weapon against civilians in 2012 and 2013 by Syrian Government forces.Cluster Munition Coalition campaigners around the world will mark the anniversary with candlelit vigils spelling out ‘CCM5’ in respect of cluster munition and ERW victims worldwide.

CMC campaigner and cluster munition survivor, Branislav Kaptanovic said "The nature of this treaty is largely a preventive one.We want to ensure that no other countries suffer from attacks and contamination like Laos, Lebanon and others still suffering the consequences of use. This treaty has without a doubt created a stigma on use of these abhorrent weapons and it is important we continue to stand up globally to this threat."