02 October 2008


(Serbia, October 2, 2008) An epic trip designed to help end the suffering of millions around the world begins this afternoon.Setting out from Belgrade The Ban Bus will travel 10 thousand kilometres through Europe and arrive in Oslo to coincide with the signing of the world’s most significant disarmament and humanitarian treaty in more than a decade, in December.The Convention on Cluster Munitions will outlaw one of the most horrific weapons systems currently in use in the world and ultimately reduce the suffering of innocent men, women and children.Once fired, cluster bombs break open in flight and spray numerous smaller submunitions, or bomblets, making them highly inaccurate.  Even civilians not killed or maimed in the attack are still at risk from cluster bombs, because in many cases the submunitions fail to detonate and explode later when they are accidently disturbed.It’s estimated one third of all cluster bomb victims are children.So far more than 100 of the world’s governments have agreed to sign the treaty in December, but The Ban Bus is a final push to ensure they honour the commitments they made during more than a year of international negotiations.  It is also a rare chance to raise public awareness of the issue in countries that haven’t agreed to sign-on yet.“We have found that many governments are willing to listen to their populations on this issue, some that wouldn’t support the ban initially are now supporters purely because of public pressure and this trip will show people they can very easily help save innocent lives,” says Ban Bus co-founder, John Rodsted.As a photojournalist and long time campaigner, John Rodsted has seen the effects of these weapons around the world, over more than 20 years.“No matter where Cluster Munitions are used, from the Balkans to Asia they have proved themselves to be a failure, that do much more harm to innocent civilians than military targets.”John’s partner on this trip, Mette Eliseussen, has also seen the effects of these weapons on the ground, “At one stage while I was working in Afghanistan we were seeing 50 explosions of unexploded ordinance a day, and 70 percent of the victims were children.”CONTACT:In Serbia and on the bus: Daniel Barty, +381 (0)61 233 1169, media@thebanbus.orgIn London: Natalie Curtis, Cluster Munition Coalition: +44 (0)20 7820 0222 or + 44 (0) 7515 575174, Natalie@stopclustermunitions.orgBACKGROUND:Where and when is the ban bus going?2 Oct. (Thurs) 14:00 Press conference Media Center. 18:00 Depart for Nis (231km drive)3 Oct (Fri) Nis, Serbia5 Oct (Sun) Depart for Skopje (225km, 1 x border crossing)6 Oct (Mon) Skopje, FYR Macedonia7 Oct (Tues) Depart for Thessaloniki (234km, 3 hour drive, 1 x border)8 Oct (Weds) Thessaloniki, Greece9 Oct (Thurs) Depart for Athens (516km/5hrs)10 Oct (Fri) Athens, Greece11 Oct (Sat) Athens, Greece13 Oct (Mon) Greece14 Oct (Tue) Greece15 Oct (Weds) Greece16 Oct (Thurs) Greece17 Oct (Fri) Depart for Istanbul (305 km/4hrs)18 Oct (Sat) Istanbul, Turkey19 Oct (Sun) Depart for Bucharest (674km/7h28, 2 x borders)20 Oct (Mon) Driving21 Oct (Tue) Bucharest, Romania22 Oct (Weds) Bucharest, Romania23 Oct (Thurs) Depart for Sofia (402 km/4h40, 1 x border)24 Oct (Fri) Sofia, Bulgaria25 Oct (Sat) Depart for Sarajevo (584 km/8h44, 2 x borders)26 Oct (Sun) Driving27 Oct (Mon) Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina28 Oct (Tues) Faith leader meeting. 16:00 Depart for Zagreb (539 km/4h45, 1 x border)29 Oct (Weds) Zagreb, Croatia30 Oct (Thurs) 12:00 Press conference. 16:00 Depart for Padua (401 km/4h, 2 x borders)31 Oct (Fri) Padua, Italy1 Nov (Sat) Depart for Geneva (547 km/5h31, 1 x border)3 Nov (Mon) Geneva. Switzerland4 Nov (Tues) Depart for Munich (591 km/6h, 1 x border)5 Nov (Weds) Stuttgart, Germany6 Nov (Thurs) Depart for Vienna, Austria. (440km/4h, 1 x border)7 Nov (Fri) Vienna, Austria8 Nov (Sat) Depart for Bratislava (79 km)10 Nov (Mon) Bratislava, Slovakia11 Nov (Tues) Depart for Krakow (367km/4h30, 1 x border)12 Nov (Weds) Krakow, Poland13 Nov (Thurs) Depart for Warsaw (271km/2h51)14 Nov (Fri) Warsaw, Poland15 Nov (Sat) Warsaw, Poland17 Nov (Mon) Depart for Vilnius (436 km/6h22, 1 x border)18 Nov (Tues) Vilnius, Lithuania19 Nov (Weds) Depart for Riga (293 km/3h35, 1 x border)20 Nov (Thurs) Riga, Latvia21 Nov (Fri) Riga, Latvia22 Nov (Sat) Depart for Tallinn (315 km/4h47, 1 x border)24 Nov (Mon) Tallinn, Estonia.25 Nov (Tues) 21:00 Depart for Helsinki (Ferry/2h28, 1 x border).26 Nov (Weds) Helsinki, Finland27 Nov (Thurs) Helsinki, Finland28 Nov (Fri) 17:30 Depart for Stockholm (24h, 1 x border)30 Nov (Sun) Stockholm, Sweden1 Dec (Mon) Depart for Oslo (532 km/6h45)2 Dec (Tues) Oslo, Norway What are cluster bombs?Cluster bombs or munitions are large weapons which are deployed from the air and from the ground and release up to hundreds of smaller submunitions. Submunitions released by airdropped cluster bombs are often called "bomblets,"while those delivered from the ground by artillery or rockets are usually referred to as "grenades."What's the problem with this weapon?Air-dropped or ground-launched, they cause two major humanitarian problems and risks to civilians. First, their widespread dispersal means they cannot distinguish between military targets and civilians so the humanitarian impact can be extreme, especially when the weapon is used in or near populated areas. Many submunitions fail to detonate on impact and become de facto antipersonnel mines killing and maiming people long after the conflict has ended. These duds are more lethal than antipersonnel mines; incidents involving submunition duds are much more likely to cause death than injury. Who has used cluster munitions?At least 14 countries have used cluster munitions: Eritrea, Ethiopia, France, Georgia, Israel, Morocco, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Russia (USSR), Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan, UK, US, and FR Yugoslavia. A small number of non-state armed groups have used the weapon (such as Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2006). Billions of submunitions are stockpiled by some 76 countries. A total of 34 states are known to have produced over 210 different types cluster munitions. More than two dozen countries have been affected by the use of cluster munitions including Afghanistan, Albania, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Chad, Croatia, DR Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Georgia, Grenada, Iraq, Israel, Kuwait, Laos, Lebanon, Montenegro, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Uganda, and Vietnam, as well as Chechnya, Falkland/Malvinas, Nagorno-Karabakh, and Western Sahara. Why is a ban on cluster munitions necessary?Simply put, cluster munitions kill and injure too many civilians. The weapon caused more civilian casualties in Iraq in 2003 and Kosovo in 1999 than any other weapon system. Cluster munitions stand out as the weapon that poses the gravest dangers to civilians since antipersonnel mines, which were banned in 1997. Yet there is currently no provision in international law to specifically address problems caused by cluster munitions. Israel's massive use of the weapon in Lebanon in August 2006 resulted in more than 200 civilian casualties in the year following the ceasefire and served as the catalyst that propelled governments to ban the weapon in 2008. What is 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 provide adequate resources to assist survivors and clear contaminated areas. Subsequent International Oslo Process meetings were held in Peru (May 2007), Austria (Dec. 2007), and New Zealand (Feb. 2008). 107 countries negotiated and adopted a treaty that bans cluster bombs and provides assistance to affected communities in May 2008 in Dublin.  The Convention on Cluster Munitions will be opened for signature in Oslo, Norway on 3 December 2008, the international day for persons with disabilities. States that adopted the Convention on Cluster Munitions (107)Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Chad, Chile, Comoros, Republic of Congo, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Holy See, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Lao PDR, Lebanon, Lesotho, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia (FYR), Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mexico, Moldova, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Timor-Leste, Togo, Uganda, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela and Zambia.ban-bus-media-release.pdf