14 December 2013
Santiago conference commits to a cluster munition-free zone in Latin America and the Caribbean
Representatives from 24 Latin American and Caribbean states met in Santiago from 12-13 December seeking the establishment of a cluster-munitions free zone in Latin America and the Caribbean. States agreed to work together against cluster munitions to contribute to the global efforts to eradicate this banned weapon.
Cluster Munition Coalition campaigners attending the meeting called on states to universalise and implement the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions as a means to this end.States attending the Santiago Regional Workshop on Cluster Munitions adopted the ‘Santiago Declaration’ at the meeting, which sets out the need for "joint action to ensure the protection of civilians through the prohibition and total eradication of cluster munitions." Elements of a regional Action Plan for a cluster munition free zone in Latin America and the Caribbean were developed, with an aim to finalise and implement it ahead of the Fifth Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munition in Costa Rica in September 2014.
Elements for a Santiago Action Plan Towards a Cluster Munition free zone in Latin America and the Caribbean include not to use cluster munitions under any circumstances; to utilise regional and sub-regional fora to meet the goal of states regionally banning the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster munitions; the establishment of networks of governmental experts; and a call for all states to ratify or accede to relevant international instruments. The 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions remains the sole international standard on cluster munitions protecting civilians from the unacceptable harm caused by cluster munitions.The meeting reaffirmed the partnership between states and civil society and the Cluster Munition Coalition was represented by campaigners from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, El Salvador, Mexico and Venezuela.22 Latin American and Caribbean states have joined the Convention on Cluster Munitions, with 11 yet to join.
The Santiago Declaration was adopted by states present including: Non-Signatories to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, Argentina, Belize, Cuba and Saint Lucia; Signatories, Colombia, Haiti, Jamaica and Paraguay and States Parties: Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Peru, St. Kitts & Nevis, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay.On the last day of the meeting, representatives of Colombia announced that the Colombian Constitutional Court has upheld that the 1604 law (Act approving the Convention on Cluster Munitions) conforms to the Constitution of the Republic. With this step the Convention on Cluster Munitions was adopted by the Colombian state and becomes law.
The last step towards ratification of the Convention is the deposit of the instrument of ratification which will be completed soon."The Santiago regional conference demonstrated the permanent commitment of Latin America and Caribbean countries towards disarmament, peace and regional security. Testament to this is that states parties and states yet to join the Convention on Cluster Munitions met to agree on future steps for a Cluster Munitions Free Zone in the region," said Maria Pia Devoto, Director of Asociación para Políticas Públicas (APP) a Cluster Munition Coalition member.
The Santiago meeting was a key opportunity for Latin American and Caribbean states to make progress ahead of the Fifth Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions (5MSP) taking place in San Jose, Costa Rica from 02-05 September 2014. It was organized by the government of the Republic of Chile, with support from the government of Norway and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).