28 October 2014

CMC Statement at the UN First Committee on Disarmament

On 28 October 2014 the Cluster Munition Coalition delivered the below statement at the United Nations’ First Committee on Disarmament and International Security.

Thank you Mr. Chair,

I am addressing you on behalf of the Cluster Munition Coalition, an international network of nongovernmental organizations working in over 100 countries to eradicate cluster munitions, prevent further causalities from these weapons and put an end for all time to the suffering they cause.

Recent casualties due to new cluster munition use in Ukraine and Syria are a grim reminder of why states, international organizations, and civil society came together to ban this indiscriminate weapon. In Syria, 97% of those recorded killed by cluster munitions were civilians. This devastating fact should renew our sense of urgency to push for full universalization of the treaty, which is essential to preventing any further harm from cluster munition use. Universalization remains the key priority for the Cluster Munition Coalition.

As we’ve seen throughout the history of the use of this weapon, from Laos to Lebanon and now Syria and Ukraine, it is civilians who suffer most from the use of cluster munitions, both at the time of their use and for decades after. How can users carry such little regard for the lives of civilians?

But it’s not all bad news.  Despite these disturbing reports of new use, States Parties should be commended for the progress made in implementing the treaty.  As unanimously concluded at the recent San José Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, the Convention is working.

To date, more than 80% of cluster munitions held by States Parties have already been destroyed. One of the largest stockpilers, the United Kingdom, announced completion of its stockpile destruction within the last year, as did Denmark.  Other states are on track to complete ahead of schedule.

States Parties continue to clear contaminated land, assist victims, and educate people living in affected communities on the deadly risks these weapons pose. It is through the implementation of these key provisions that those suffering from cluster munition contamination will be able to live free from the threat of cluster bombs.

The number of states joining the treaty is also growing. We congratulate Guinea for announcing its ratification last week, bringing the total number of States Parties to 87.

It’s not only states, but entire regions that are making progress in universalization. With the accession of Belize to the Convention, Central America has become the first cluster bomb-free zone. We welcome this initiative and encourage other regions to follow this lead and work collectively to stand strong against this weapon.

We urge all states to condemn any use of cluster munitions, including the widespread use in Syria and Ukraine as well the isolated use in South Sudan this year. As Costa Rica reminded us last week, this is a legal duty for States Parties, but it is a moral duty for all. We welcome the strong condemnation voiced by many states here in New York, and we encourage states to continue to do so. We are pleased that members of the UN Security Council voiced concern at use of cluster munitions in last week’s debate on Ukraine, and addressed use in South Sudan in UNSC Resolution 2155, unanimously adopted earlier this year. We  encourage them to support further investigations and measures to address the issue.

As we approach our global day of action against investment in cluster munition producers in November, we also encourage states to ensure their national laws implementing the convention prohibit the investment of public and private funds in companies that produce cluster munitions in other countries.

We are confident that under the leadership of CCM President Costa Rica that the treaty will continue to strengthen and the number of states banning this weapon will continue to grow.

We also encourage states outside the convention to report on progress made towards joining and to stress their support for the humanitarian objectives of the convention.

The First Review Conference of the convention will take place next September in Croatia. The Cluster Munition Coalition is working with Croatia to ensure this is a successful meeting. We urge states to view the Review Conference as a deadline for joining - for signatories to ratify and others to accede - helping to further stigmatize use and ensure civilians can live free from the impact of this horrific weapon. We look forward to working with all of you to achieve this goal.