23 February 2015

No More Cluster Munitions

Action and Engagement to Prepare for the CCM’s First Review Conference

Zagreb Mission

 Hrvoje Debač, Dijana Pleština, Megan Burke in Zagreb, Croatia. (c) Loren Persi

The First Review Conference of the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM), to be held in in September 2015 in Dubrovnik, Croatia, marks a major milestone for the Convention. States Parties will review progress made under the treaty in its first five years and to agree on next steps towards the elimination of cluster munitions globally.

On 11-14 February a Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) delegation, led by Director Megan Burke, met the hosts of the First Review Conference of the CCM in Croatia’s capital city of Zagreb. Over the course of the visit, Megan, together with CMC’s members from Croatia and the region, worked with Croatian government representatives to plan how to optimize the historic opportunity that this conference represents.

The Review Conference will evaluate the progress made by states so far to meet the lifesaving obligations they have consented to be bound by the Convention, as well as the political obligations they undertook in the Vientiane Action Plan.

States Parties and the CMC have launched a call to reach 100 States Parties (11 more than the 89 current States Parties) by the time of the Review Conference. Increased universalization will expand adherence to the ban on the use of cluster munitions and strengthen the existing norm against their use even among States not party. The CMC, partnering with states and other key actors like the ICRC and the UN, has an important role in getting more states on board and ensuring that the Review Conference sets the stage for robust implementation of the Convention for the years ahead. The CMC’s visit to Croatia in February was an important step in ensuring the success of the conference.

 The CMC delegation met with Dr. Dijana Pleština, Director of the Government Office for Mine Action, Hrvoje Debač, Demining Office Advisor in charge of national coordination for the Review Conference and Miljenko Vahtarić, Assistant Director of Croatian Mine Action Center, about Dubrovnik Conference preparations including the role civil society will have in the conference as well as practicalities, such as the conference venue and transportation. 

 Marija Breber, Director of Croatia’s survivor assistance NGO Mine-AID, and Jelena Vicentic of survivor-run NGO Assistance Advocacy Access Serbia formed part of the CMC delegation meeting in Zagreb. The two have a long history of close regional cooperation, including their work with the Landmine Survivor Initiatives in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, to bring cluster munition and other armed conflict survivors from the region together. They vowed to continuing working together on preparations for the Review Conference, a combination that will surely result in excellent collaboration among regional groups advocating for universalization and effective implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Zagreb Mission2

Jelena Vicentic, Marija Breber, Dijana Pleština and Megan Burke in Zagreb, Croatia. (c) Loren Persi

 The CMC Director also met with Mine Aid peer support worker Mirsad Tokic, a former deminer who cleared all types of explosive contamination, including cluster munitions, before being injured in a mine clearance accident. Mirsad explained the realities of cluster munitions-- detailing the mechanisms involved, the risks these “evil” weapons pose and the challenges of clearance, based on his own experience. Mirsad spoke passionately about the importance of the ban to prevent future casualties.

 Dr. Dijana Plestina and Megan Burke both spoke at the Croatian Parliament for the opening of the European year for Development. This event gave CMC director an opportunity to meet the Croatian Minister of Foreign Affairs already this far in advance of the Dubrovnik Conference and to commend Croatia’s strong role in supporting the success of the Convention.

 During the Parliamentary event, the delegation also heard about Croatia’s increasing role as a small donor country and a leader among small donors. For example, Croatia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs highlighted that Croatia’s engagement in supporting CCM signatory state Colombia in mine action. Colombia is one of the countries that should be able to come to the Review conference as a full state party, having completed its ratification before September.

 While preparations are underway in Croatia, all around the world, many other CMC national campaigners are hard at work to also make the most of the upcoming Review Conference to promote universalization or the implementation of the CCM in their own countries and regions. Only through such a collective effort we can reach 100 States Parties- and together, end the harm caused by cluster munitions.