20 October 2020

Lugano Human Rights Film Festival Discussion on Cluster Munitions, War Crimes, and Accountability

Tibisay Ambrosini Lugano Panel Giovannidiffidenti CMC

Tibisay Ambrosini, Italian Campaign to Ban Landmines, photo ©GiovanniDiffidenti/CMC

The Lugano Human Rights Film Festival was the stage on 17 October for a dynamic discussion on indiscriminate cluster munitions and what is being done to end all use in Syria and elsewhere, promoting the global ban on the weapon and supporting affected individuals and communities.

The event was organized by the festival in conjunction with the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs as Switzerland prepares to host the Second Review Conference of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, 23 to 27 November in Lausanne.

“Cluster Munitions are fundamentally weapons that injure and kill civilians; children, women, and men,” said Tibisay Ambrosini, from Cluster Munition Coalition member organization the Italian Campaign to Ban Landmines, in addressing a capacity crowd at the Saturday event (fully respecting COVID-19 restrictions currently in place in Switzerland) .

The panel discussion followed screening of the National Geographic, Nobel Prize film Into the Fire, profiling the work of a Mines Advisory Group clearance team in Iraq led by and comprised of Yazidi women. “This film rightly highlights the important role of women in disarmament, but this is not new,” noted Tibisay Ambrosini, pointing to a history of women led disarmament action by ICBL-CMC members among others.

CMC joined Carla Del Ponte, former Chief Prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, the President of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, Ambassador Felix Baumann from the Swiss Federal Department for Foreign Affairs, Director of the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining, Ambassador Stefano Toscano, and the Director of the ortho-prosthetic rehabilitation organization, Swiss Limbs,  Roberto Agosta, for the panel discussion. Radiotelevisione Svizzera moderated the discussion, with interviews to be aired this week on the RSI Telegiornale programme.

Carla Del Ponte2 Lugano Panel Giovannidiffidenti CMC

Carla Del Ponte, former Chief Prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for ex-Yugoslavia, photo ©GiovanniDiffidenti/CMC

Del Ponte opened discussion addressing war crimes committed in Syria including the use of cluster munitions, and ensuring accountability for states that use the internationally banned weapon.

The Convention on Cluster Munitions prohibiting the production, stockpiling and use, of the weapon, was adopted in 2008 and became international law in 2010. Today, 123 States have joined the Convention – 110 States Parties and 13 signatories.

Ambassador Baumann emphasized that universal adoption of the convention by states, and strengthening of the international norm, are key to ending the sufferings cluster bombs cause at time of attack and for years afterwards. Switzerland, a State Party to the convention, completed destruction of its cluster munitions stocks in 2019. 

Ambbaumann Lugano Presentation Panel 599

Convention on Cluster Munitions President, Swiss Ambassador, Felix Baumann, photo ©GiovanniDiffidenti/CMC

Inclusion of civil society voice is key to working towards a world free from cluster munitions, noted Ambassador Toscano, citing the achievement of the mine ban movement partnership with states. Ambrosini emphasized the important role survivors of the weapon play in promoting the convention and advocating for the rights of victims and affected communities.

The Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor was also cited by audience and panel members as a key resource in tracking the progress of the convention and holding states accountable for abiding by and promoting implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. The 2020 Cluster Munition Monitor Report will be launched on 23 November. 

The photo exhibition Lasting Footprints, produced by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs in conjunction with the GICHD and displayed in Lugano, complemented the event discussion. The travelling exhibit illustrates the indiscriminate nature of cluster munitions and their long-term impact, and profiles affected communities and survivors of the weapon, looking in particular at the cases of Croatia, Iraq, and Lao PDR.

Lugano Cluster Exhibit Giovannidiffidenti CMC

 Lasting Footprints photo exhibit at Lugano Human Rights Film Festival, photo ©GiovanniDiffidenti/CMC


More pictures from the event on our Flickr page