Cluster Bomb Ban reaches 30th ratification milestone – Will become binding international law on 1 August 2010

PRESS RELEASE, 17 February 2010

Burkina Faso and Moldova ratified the international Convention banning cluster munitions yesterday, bringing the total number of ratifications to 30 and triggering entry into force on 1 August 2010, when the Convention will become binding international law.

Joe Murray of Afri said, “It is not often that we can celebrate good news in relation to the invidious industry that is the arms trade, but today is a day when we can do just that. The news that thirty countries have now ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which will result in its becoming binding international law, is good news indeed and cause for celebration”.

Although many victims have suffered from the impact of cluster munitions, the entry into force of the Convention on Cluster Munitions will ensure that new generations will not be exposed to the horror of these most inhumane of weapons. Great credit and warm congratulations are due to those people and countries who took the steps necessary to bring this about.

The Oslo Process and the treaty negotiations were characterised by a close partnership between pro-ban governments, civil society, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and UN agencies, as well as by the leadership of affected states such as Lao PDR and of individual survivors themselves.

The Irish Government deserve credit for its contributions to the achievement of this treaty, particularly its leadership during the crucial treaty negotiations in Dublin in May 2008. “This treaty is a step towards disarmament which is in line with the best aspects of Irish foreign policy for many years from the great Frank Aiken onwards. Let’s hope the Irish Government will continue to pursue this road towards disarmament”, said Joe Murray.

The Cluster Munition Coaliton (CMC) also deserve great credit for their sterling work in this area, and particularly all NGOs that were involved in the Irish branch of the CMC and helped raise awareness of the issue in the run up to the crucial treaty negotiations that took place in Dublin in May 2008.

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NOTES

About cluster bombs

A cluster munition (or cluster bomb) is a weapon containing multiple – often hundreds – of small explosive submunitions or bomblets. Cluster munitions are dropped from the air or fired from the ground and designed to break open in mid-air, releasing the submunitions over an area that can be the size of several football fields. This means they cannot discriminate between civilians and soldiers. Many of the submunitions fail to explode on impact and remain a threat to lives and livelihoods for decades after a conflict.

About the Convention on Cluster Munitions

The Convention on Cluster Munitions bans the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster munitions and requires countries to clear affected areas within 10 years and destroy stockpiles of the weapon within eight. The Convention includes groundbreaking provisions requiring assistance to victims and affected communities. Signed in Oslo in December 2008, it is the most significant international disarmament treaty since the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty banning antipersonnel landmines.

About the Oslo Process

In February 2007, 46 governments met in Oslo to endorse a call by Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre to conclude a new legally binding instrument in 2008 that prohibits the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm to civilians and provides adequate resources to assist survivors and clear contaminated areas.

Subsequent International Oslo Process meetings were held in Peru (May 2007), Austria (December 2007), and New Zealand (February 2008). 107 countries negotiated and adopted a treaty that bans cluster bombs and provides assistance to affected communities in May 2008 in Dublin. The treaty was signed by 94 countries at the Signing Conference in Oslo in December 2008 and has since been collecting further signatures and ratifications.

About the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC)

The CMC is an international coalition of around 350 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working in 85 countries to encourage urgent action against cluster bombs. The CMC facilitates NGO efforts worldwide to educate governments, the public and the media about the problems of cluster munitions and to urge universalisation and full implementation of the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions. Afri is a member of the Cluster Munition Coalition.

The following 104 countries have signed the Convention

Afghanistan, Albania, Angola, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Cameroon, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Comoros, DR Congo, Republic of Congo, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Côte D’Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Fiji, France, Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Haiti, The Holy See, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Lao PDR, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar , Malawi, Mali, Malta, Mexico, Republic of Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Rwanda, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tomé and Principe, St. Vincent and Grenadines, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Slovenia, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Zambia.

Of these, the following 30 countries have ratified the Convention

Albania (16 Jun 2009), Austria (2 Apr 2009), Belgium (22 Dec 2009), Burkina Faso (16 February 2010), Burundi (25 Sep 2009), Croatia (17 Aug 2009), Denmark (12 February 2010), The Holy See (3 Dec 2008), France (25 Sep 2009), Germany (8 Jul 2009), Ireland (3 Dec 2008), Japan (14 Jul 2009), Lao PDR (18 Mar 2009), Luxembourg (10 Jul 2009), Macedonia (8 Oct 2009), Malawi (7 Oct 2009), Malta (24 Sep 2009), Mexico (6 May 2009), Moldova (16 February 2010), Montenegro (25 January 2010), New Zealand (22 Dec 2009), Nicaragua (6 Nov 2009), Niger (2 Jun 2009), Norway (3 Dec 2008), San Marino (10 Jul 2009), Sierra Leone (3 Dec 2008), Slovenia (19 Aug 2009), Spain (17 Jun 2009), Uruguay (24 Sep 2009), Zambia (12 Aug 2009).

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