14 November 2008

Report - Quito Regional Conference on the Convention on Cluster Munitions

Photos: Serena Olgiati 20 States from Latin America and the Caribbean as well as representatives of UNDP, ICRC and 16 representatives of the CMC attended the Quito Regional Conference on the Convention on Cluster Munitions.Bolivia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama and Paraguay announced they would sign the treaty in Oslo on 3 December, joining Chile, Mexico and Uruguay. Jamaica, Dominican Republic and Peru indicated they are working on the internal process for signature in Oslo.Colombia sent a senior delegation, indicating its strongest engagement yet on this issue and during a meeting with campaigners the delegates from Bogotá were very positive about the possibility of signature in Oslo. We will be following up with the delegation from Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Defence to facilitate their internal procedures for signature in Oslo.In the morning session of November 7, Ecuador made a strong statement on behalf of Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Uruguay urging all countries to join them in announcing their intent to sign the Convention in Oslo. This paved the way for the announcements from Bolivia, Nicaragua, Panama and Paraguay. Bolivia, in its statement, sent greetings from the President and announced that their Foreign Minister will sign the treaty in Oslo.Highlights from the conference proceedings included a strong presentation on victim assistance from Guatemala, an excellent interpretative statement by Ecuador making strong arguments on the need to be vigilant on Article 21 and to ensure through common understandings and implementation that the Article can never be used to justify derogation from the core prohibitions in Article 1. In addition Chile made a very detailed presentation on national steps, including stockpile destruction and announcing its intention to host a follow up regional meeting to push ratification and universalisation.CMC campaigners made interventions on prohibitions, victim assistance, clearance and destruction, international cooperation and assistance, national steps, norm building and stigmatisation, as well as the opening statement delivered by Maria Eugenia Villareal.Argentina and Venezuela (even though it did not attend the conference) got special attention from campaigners in the run up to and during the conference.All in all, the conference highlighted high spirits and strong determination from States to get the region out in force in Oslo and beyond.Further InformationFull conference reports in English and Spanish as well as all CMC statements and further conference documents are available here.