23 February 2007


A historic process to develop, negotiate and conclude a new treaty prohibiting cluster munitions that have unacceptable consequences for civilians was launched at a successful conference hosted by the Norwegian Foreign Minister in Oslo at a meeting of 49 states, the Cluster Munition Coalition said today.The group of states, meeting after the failure of arms talks in Geneva last year, agreed to a clear declaration committing them to conclude by 2008 a new instrument prohibiting cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm to civilians. Of the states meeting in Oslo, only Japan, Romania and Poland did not support the declaration.“Cluster munitions have killed and injured civilians for 40 years. Today the international community took a historic step today to put an end to that once and for all. The strong political will, common purpose and sense of urgency in the conference give us confidence that this new process will succeed in bringing about a meaningful new treaty in 2008,” said Thomas Nash, Coordinator of the international Cluster Munition Coalition.The states also agreed to a clear roadmap for the way forward with follow up meetings in this process in Lima in May or June, Vienna in November and Dublin in early 2008.The group of 46 states to agree to the new process includes key users, producers and stockpilers of the weapon from all continents, including a number of countries affected by cluster munitions such as Afghanistan, Lebanon and Serbia. “Having 46 nations agree to this strong declaration shows how far we have come in so short a time towards a new treaty. The momentum has to continue and those states still outside this process need to get on board if they are serious about protecting civilians from the effects of armed conflict,” said Steve Goose, Co-Chair of the Cluster Munition Coalition.The presence of 100 participants from NGOs at a parallel civil society forum held in Oslo during the government meeting underlines the growing determination amongst civil society groups for a new treaty. This public campaign and partnership with governments mirrors the successful effort to ban landmines in the 1990s.For more information, quotes or interviews, contact media coordinator Lars Glomnes, +47 909 60 829 or larmol@npaid.org