30 May 2008

Over 100 Countries Adopt Treaty To Ban Cluster Bombs

Campaigners Launch People's Treaty To Hold Governments To Their WordDownload Press Release (PDF)(Dublin, May 30th, 2008) Cluster bomb survivors and campaigners today welcomed the formal adoption of the Cluster Munitions Convention by over 100 countries. This historic treaty bans the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of all existing and future cluster bombs. To keep pressure on governments and to ensure that the treaty enters into force, campaigners today launched the People's Treaty."The adoption of this treaty has intensified the stigma attached to cluster bombs. It’s up to the countries to turn the text into reality,"said Thomas Nash, coordinator of the Cluster Munition Coalition.After the formal adoption of the treaty text in Dublín today, the signing of the treaty will take place in Oslo in early December 2008. For the treaty to enter into force it must be ratified by 30 countries. Survivors and campaigners will be following up on a national level with the People's Treaty launched today."It is up to Governments now to show the political will to immediately start destroying stocks, clearing contaminated land and assisting survivors and their families", said Simon Conway, a former soldier and CMC Co-Chair.The treaty, which will see the majority of the world's stockpilers, producers and past users of cluster bombs enforce a categorical ban, has exceeded all expectations. Although initially stockpiler nations tried to protect their own stockpiles, no transition period and no exceptions are allowed.This raises the bar for treaties covering conventional weapons, particularly around victim assistance. Humanitarian assistance for victims and affected communities, as well as obligations of affected countries and donors to clear contaminated land, go beyond what was agreed in the landmine treaty and build on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities."I lost my arms and legs because of cluster bombs. This treaty sets the highest standard to date for victim assistance and will make a real difference to affected people and communities around the world,"said Branislav Kapetanovic a cluster munition survivor from Serbia.At the start of the negotiations, key areas of concern included: victim assistance, joint military operations, transition period, stockpiling, clearance and definitions.Campaigners are insisting that the treaty must be interpreted to prohibit foreign stockpiling and intentional assistance with use of the weapons."Moving forward, we will be watching very carefully to make sure that countries who have adopted the treaty can never again deliberately assist those who have not and that they reject any foreign stockpiling on their soil,"said Steve Goose, CMC Co-Chair and Director of the Arms division at Human Rights Watch.Proposals for transition periods allowing states to use the weapons for anything between seven and twelve years were quashed by affected states. Stockpiles of existing weapons must now be destroyed within eight years. After a lot of work on definitions of cluster munitions – which weapons are included or not in the ban – all types of existing cluster munitions are now banned, including M85s, BLU97s and MLRS weapons. Millions of explosive submunitions are now slated for destruction for those states that join the convention"As of today, millions of weapons will be taken out of service and no more of these indiscriminate weapons will be used again. The world is a safer place thanks to the Oslo Process,"said Grethe Osthern of Norwegian People’s Aid and CMC Co-Chair.This is the culmination of two weeks of intense negotiation under Irish leadership, and of thirteen months of treaty discussions since the launch of the Oslo process in February 2007, when 46 countries first committed to ban cluster bombs. To get to this point, Norway lead the process; Ireland brokered the deal; Peru, Austria, New Zealand held key international conferences; Mexico, Costa Rica, Zambia, Serbia, Belgium led regional conferences and Laos and Lebanon gave compelling evidence for affected countries.As of the formal adoption today over 100 states including many NATO allies, UK, Canada, Germany, France, Netherlands, Denmark, Italy, Spain, Belgium are committed to no longer using cluster bombs.