24 May 2013

Lomé Conference Sets Course for Africa-Wide Cluster Munition Ban

(Lomé, Togo - 23 May 2013 ) Representatives from 35 African states have been outspoken in calling for a ‘concerted and accelerated effort’ towards an Africa-wide ban on cluster bombs at a meeting in Lomé this week. Cluster Munition Coalition campaigners attending the meeting from 8 African states, including survivors, called on states to act now to protect civilians from harm.

States adopted the "Lomé Universalization Strategy on the Convention on Cluster Munitions" at the meeting, which sets out concrete steps states will take to achieve continent-wide membership of the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions and a commitment to the full, effective, rapid implementation of the treaty. These include: establishing a regional working group on universalization, an expert meeting on the elaboration of model legislation to be convened by Ghana and an initiative to engage parliamentarians to ensure their support in joining the CCM.

In doing so, the Strategy reaffirms the partnership between states, the UN, and civil society to achieve the goals of the treaty. It builds on the action plan agreed in Accra in 2012, and other regional African agreements in support of the Convention, including from Kampala and Livingston.Africa played a leading role in bringing to life the ban on cluster munitions and today the continent accounts for 42 of the 112 states that have joined the Convention. The Lomé Universalization Strategy on the CCM was adopted by states present including: 17 States Parties, 13 signatories and five non-states parties – Eritrea, Libya, Gabon, South Sudan, and Zimbabwe. It urges the 19 African signatory states and the 12 African states that have not yet signed the CCM to become States Parties at the earliest opportunity, and to strive towards the universalization of the convention to include all countries on the African continent."This week states have called for Africa to take the lead on banning these indiscriminate and inhumane weapons; our challenge now is to build on this momentum to assist the African states that still need to ratify and those that need to accede, to do so without delay," said Kokou Aklavon, Cluster Munition Coalition campaigner for Togo.

States that have joined the Convention on Cluster Munitions have a legal obligation to speak out against use of this deadly weapon and states present at the meeting expressed grave concern about the recent and ongoing use of cluster munitions urging an immediate halt to use and calling on all states to join the treaty. Recent use of cluster munitions by the Syrian government, has led to mounting casualties, including women and children.Addressing the plenary, Robert Mtonga, Cluster Munition Coalition campaigner from Zambia said: "Africa must speak out against the use of cluster munitions in Syria. We call on all states that have not yet done so to join the treaty and stand up for the protection of civilian lives.

Together we can make our children proud. Now is Africa’s time to unite against cluster munitions."The Lomé meeting was a key opportunity for African states to make progress ahead of the Fourth Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions (4MSP) taking place in Lusaka, Zambia from 09-13 September 2013. It was organized by the government of the Republic of Togo in cooperation with the governments of Ghana and Zambia, with support from the government of Norway and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).