13 September 2013

Zambian Presidency Calls for Africa-Wide and Universal Cluster Munition Ban at Global Treaty Meeting

(Lusaka, Zambia: 13 September 2013): More than half the world’s nations met in Zambia this week to express their support for the international ban on cluster munitions. In addressing the Fourth Meeting of States Parties (4MSP) to the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) this week, Zambian President Michael Chilufya Sata called on all countries to "condemn in the strongest terms all continued production, use and stockpiling of cluster munitions by any country."Zambia, which took on the Convention presidency at the meeting, expressed strong commitment to bringing all countries on board the Treaty.

This is the first Meeting of States Parties to the Convention to be held in Africa."The success of this convention to date in reducing human suffering caused by cluster munitions was clearly demonstrated at the meeting this week. This success is built on the acknowledgement by a majority of countries that these indiscriminate weapons have no place in today’s world.

We welcome the commitment of the Zambian presidency to a global ban on cluster munitions," said Cluster Munition Coalition Director Sarah Blakemore.The 4MSP President, Zambia Foreign Affairs Minister Wylbur Simuusa, called for Africa-wide adherence to the ban on cluster munitions. During the meeting this week, Namibia and the Republic of Congo announced they would ratify the Convention in the coming year, and South Africa said plans for ratification are well advanced. Gabon and South Sudan said they expected to accede to the treaty in the near future. Nigeria confirmed they are taking steps to ratify the Convention as did Kenya said it was looking at ratification.

African countries have been outspoken in their support for the global ban since its 2008 negotiation in Dublin, Ireland. Uganda hosted the first Africa-wide meeting on cluster munitions in 2008 and Zambia hosted a meeting of the Oslo Process to Ban Cluster Munitions in Livingstone in the same year. Ghana and Togo hosted regional meetings on the Convention on Cluster Munitions in 2012 and 2013 respectively. Forty-two of fifty-four African countries have joined the Convention, though nineteen of those have yet to ratify the treaty.During the week-long meeting, participants adopted the Zambia Progress Report noting the large number of states that have condemned or otherwise expressed concern about the use of cluster munitions in Syria in 2012 and 2013.

Thirty-one States Parties and signatories made statements expressing concern about the use of cluster munitions in Syria, with many more states condemning the use of cluster munitions by any actor under any circumstances.States Parties have collectively destroyed 71% of their stockpiled cluster munitions since the Convention became international law just over three years ago. Chile announced completion of stockpile destruction at the meeting, while the UK and Denmark said they would complete their obligations by the end of 2013.

Japan is beginning destruction of its stockpiles this month.Several other States Parties with stockpiles are on track to complete destruction well in advance of the deadlines required by the Treaty.Significant progress has also been made in the area of effective clearance of land contaminated with cluster munitions. States Parties cleared nearly 78km² across 11 states and two other areas in 2012 according to the Cluster Munition Monitor 2013 report.

Mauritania announced at the meeting that it had finished clearing all known cluster munition contaminated areas.Cluster munitions survivors from countries including Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Iraq, Lao PDR, Tajikistan, and Vietnam participated in the Zambia meeting and met with country delegates throughout the week.

Assistance to survivors, and to their families and communities, is a key component of the Convention in addressing the unacceptable harm caused by cluster munitions."The inclusion of survivors is an essential characteristic of the cluster munition ban community and something all states should be particularly proud of," said Cluster Munition Coalition Spokesperson, Branislav Kaptanovic.

PDF copy of full press release in Arabic, English, French and  Spanish