04 October 2007


Belgrade, 4 October 2007 - Cluster bomb survivors gathered in Serbia this week to ensure their rights were at the heart of international efforts to ban the weapon by 2008. 

Twenty-two of the 26 affected states participated in the Belgrade Conference of States Affected by Cluster Munitions, the latest development in the Oslo Process for a new treaty banning these weapons, which has gathered the support of 82 countries in just seven months.

“Just as we were making our way to the conference, six-year old Ali Dakdouk was making his way to school when he was killed by a cluster munition in Sultaniyeh in southern Lebanon. This is a stark and tragic reminder of how urgent it is to ban these weapons,” said Thomas Nash, Coordinator of the Cluster Munitions Coalition.

During the conference, Albania announced it would not produce or trade in cluster bombs, pending the negotiations of a new treaty. Uganda and Montenegro announced they will destroy their stockpiles. Serbia declared it is considering a moratorium.

Survivors from Afghanistan to Uganda were united in their demand for a strong, effective treaty to ban the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of all cluster bombs. Clearance of contaminated land, upholding the rights of victims to rebuild their lives, and international financial assistance were equally appealed for.

“Governments must recognise that they don’t have a choice, they have an obligation to ensure that the human rights of survivors are upheld,” said Margaret Arach Orech, Director of Uganda’s Landmine Survivors Association. The new treaty on cluster munitions would reinforce the recently signed Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which sets standards for governments in improving the lives of all people with disabilities.                                                          

 “I want a strong treaty that not only bans cluster munitions but also protects the victims. We the survivors are not only here to advocate for our own rights, but also to safeguard the lives of countless people who are not yet inured,” added Firoz Ali Alizada, Communications and Advocacy Director for Handicap International Afghanistan.

“Cluster bombs like landmines take away lives, limbs and land from the poorest people on earth. We need to act now to avoid a global catastrophe that could surpass the landmine crisis. The progress made so far gives us confidence that will achieve an outright ban by 2008,” concluded Thomas Nash.