02 September 2014

Republic of Congo Ratifies Cluster Bomb Ban

At the Fifth Meeting of States Parties to the cluster bomb ban the Republic of Congo announced it was joining the ever-growing group of nations officially renouncing cluster bombs by ratifying the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions.

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CMC Campaigners with the government delegation of the Republic of Congo, at the Fifth Meeting of States Parties in San Jose, where the ratification was announced. ©CMC

Representatives from the Republic of Congo declared they had submitted the instrument of ratification to the UN Secretary-General via the Office of Legal Affairs.  The ratification comes as nearly 100 states are meeting for the convention’s Fifth Meeting of States Parties in San Jose, Costa Rica 2-5 September.

"We are proud to join the large family of convention members and we hope other states that have not yet done so will join the movement rapidly. We will make sure to carry this message in our bilateral relations with friendly states. Indeed this fits well into the peace policies of the President of Congo, H.E. Denis Sassou Nguesso", said Colonel Jean Aimé Ignoumba, Head of Military Cooperation at the Ministry of Defence, speaking from San José.

The convention will enter into force on 1 March 2015 for the Republic of Congo. The country is not known to currently have stockpiles of the weapon or to be contaminated with cluster munition remnants. Such remnants were found during clearance operations at an arms depot in Maya-Maya in 2011, and they were destroyed in cooperation with CMC member Mines Advisory Group. The Republic of Congo has never used or produced cluster munitions.

“We congratulate Congo on joining the impressive number of other states that have also officially renounced cluster munitions. Ninety-four percent of the victims of these weapons are civilians – a horrible statistic that clearly shows how unacceptable cluster munitions are,” said CMC member Francky Miantuala, Head of the Congolese Campaign to Ban Landmines, a civil society organization based in Democratic Republic of Congo that has actively accompanied the neighboring Republic of Congo in its process towards ratification.

The Republic of Congo is one of forty-two African states to have joined the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Its ratification comes in the year that the Presidency of the convention was held by an African nation for the first time, Zambia.  In 2013 the Republic of Congo was one of thirty-six countries to adopt the Lomé Strategy on the Convention on Cluster Munitions pledging to promote and progress Africa-wide universalization of the convention. Twelve African states are yet to join the convention, including South Sudan which suffered new use of the weapon within the past year. Reacting to the evidence of new use of cluster munitions in South Sudan found by the UN Mine Action Service, the Zambian presidency of the convention said, "Cluster munitions are indiscriminate weapons that maim or kill civilians during and long after a conflict. Their continued use in Africa and indeed other regions has continued to cost the world through loss of precious lives and other resources."

More information on cluster munitions and the Republic of Congo is available from the Cluster Munition Monitor.

(En français: La République du Congo ratifie l’interdiction des bombes à sous-munitions)