The Convention on Cluster Munitions featured prominently in governments’ statements to the UN First Committee on disarmament and international security. During the debate on conventional weapons around 25 countries made particular reference to the Convention, calling on other states to join it and providing updates on steps they are taking to adhere to it.

Canada, Jamaica, Kenya, Netherlands, New Zealand, Philippines, South Africa, Switzerland, Tanzania and the United Kingdom were among those who confirmed that steps are being taken to ratify the Convention.

The Lao People’s Democratic Republic, the country most affected by cluster bombs, re-stated its offer to host the First Meeting of States Parties which was welcomed by several states including Australia, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Ireland, Mexico, Norway, Slovenia, South Africa, Switzerland and the UK. Ireland presented the UN General Assembly procedural resolution (A/C.1/64/L.16) on the Convention, co-sponsored by Lao PDR. The resolution welcomes the offer by Lao PDR to host the meeting and requests the UN Secretary-General to undertake the necessary preparations to convene the meeting. Chile offered to host a Preparatory Meeting in early 2010 to lay the groundwork for the First Meeting of States Parties.

Canada said that within the CCW “unfortunately, after 12 weeks of negotiations over almost 2 years, States remain divided on several key issues” but that “fortunately there now exists the Convention on Cluster Munitions” that is “a ‘state of the art,’ legally-binding instrument that establishes the right balance between humanitarian and military considerations.” The UK stated that it was “regrettable” that negotiations within the CCW have made little substantive progress and that a new Protocol under the CCW “could have supplemented the Convention on Cluster Munitions”. Switzerland warned that the legal regime applicable to cluster munitions would be “seriously compromised if the CCW were to adopt an instrument that would legitimize the very weapons prohibited in the CCM”. The EU, France, the Netherlands, Japan, Slovenia, Switzerland insisted any agreement within the CCW would need to be compatible and complementary. The EU for example noted a new Protocol would have to contain “an immediate prohibition, whether on the use, production or transfer of cluster munitions” and Japan noted that the CCM and CCW should both promote “the same objective of eliminating cluster munitions.”

Norway noted that the CCM “is establishing itself as a new international norm” and that based on the experience with the Mine Ban Treaty it would become an “international norm which goes beyond the membership of the Convention.” Slovenia also expressed a hope that the “Convention will become - on the same way as the Ottawa Convention on anti-personnel mines - a universal norm having a direct impact on the lives of effected [sic] people around the world.” South Africa also noted that “the Convention sets a new international norm on cluster munitions” that “will swiftly lead to their stigmatization as weapons of armed conflict.”

Indonesia announced that it will host a “Regional Conference on the Promotion and Universalization of the Convention on Cluster Munitions” in Bali in November.

Other countries that spoke about the Convention on Cluster Munitions included Cameroon, DR Congo, Lebanon, Lesotho, Malawi, Senegal, and Tanzania. In addition statements in support of the CCM were given on behalf of the EU, Mercosur, Non-Aligned Movement and the Central American SICA. China, the Republic of Korea, India, Israel, Pakistan and Turkey referred to cluster munitions in their statements but only in the context of the CCW.

Sixty governments took part in the UN Special Event on the Convention on Cluster Munitions at the UN headquarters in New York on 21 October 2009 including representatives from 19 countries that have not yet signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions: Bhutan, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Ethiopia, Greece, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Malaysia, Qatar, Singapore, Suriname, Tajikistan, USA and Vanuatu.

The UN High Representative for Disarmament Sergio Duarte also addressed the meeting, urging all UN member states to sign and ratify the Convention without delay and noting that its entry into force in 2010 would make that year a “truly historic one in disarmament.” Ambassador Duarte described the Convention as “a major step forward in global efforts to protect civilians and to control the abhorrent spread of deadly weaponry that is viewed around the world as inhumane.”

The Lao Ambassador to the United Nations, H.E. Ms. Kanika Phommachanh, said that as the world’s worst affected country from cluster munitions, her government urges all States to join the Convention without delay. The Ambassador noted that “for 45 years, Laos has been faced with the effects of explosive weapons, in particular cluster munitions” and urged “all countries in a position to do so to contribute to a substantial increase in resources allocated to Lao PDR” noting that its “implementation of the Convention will surely depend on this.” Other panelists included representatives of the Cluster Munition Coalition, UNDP and the ICRC. Ireland, Indonesia, Croatia, Zambia, Norway, Spain and Belgium gave statements from the floor during the event.

Read the full report on the UN Special Event on the Convention on Cluster Munitions:

UN Special Event REPORT

See also:

Reaching Critical Will’s report on the UN First Committee:

http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/political/1com/FCM.html

Recahing Critical Will’s compilation of government statements to the UN First Committee:

http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/political/1com/FCM.html