08 December 2008

Convention on Cluster Munitions Signing Conference - Update 4 December 2008

(Oslo, 4 December 2008) - Following yesterday's stirring commencement of the Oslo Signing Ceremony, statements in support of the CCM continued today with the same enthusiasm, congratulations, and hope for the future.If yesterday felt like the proud celebration of the achievement of the CCM, today felt more like the celebration of the work of the CMC. The role of civil society and the Cluster Munition Coalition was resoundingly applauded in nearly every statement. Repeatedly, delegations praised the effective contribution of the CMC and the essential partnership between governments and civil society in bringing about the swift and significant result contained in the CCM. In particular, the recognition of the work of the Ban Advocates in contribution to the Oslo Process was one of the emotional high-points of the signing ceremony. Berihu, Dusica, and Soraj gave memorable and personal interventions on behalf of all the Ban Advocates. Witnessing the Ban Advocates standing together on the stage behind them was a powerful visual reminder of their work, which has been a driving and motivational force throughout the process.The ICRC, UNICEF, UNOCHA, UNDP, and the CMC team also delivered evocative interventions. On behalf of the CMC, Khaled Yamout spoke on the importance of clearance and stockpile destruction, while Lamis Zein, a Lebanese deminer part of a NPA all-female demining team, spoke about her personal experience as a deminer and the importance of her work for the safety of local communities. Maria Pia Devoto discussed critical future work and the entry into force of the Convention and Richard Moyes delivered a rousing closing address on behalf of the Coalition.Honduras kicked off the list of State delegations hailing the ‘Spirit of Oslo,' of respect and defense of all human rights, including the most important - the right to life - that has permeated the entire Oslo Process.Sweden noted that the strength of the Oslo process rests on the fact that it is carried forward by civil society and the CMC and the support rendered by the UN Secretary-General. Sweden also noted the values and strong commitments contained in the CCM, in particular, notable measures for the protection of vulnerable groups, a reference to UN SC Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security and Resolution 1612 on Children in Armed Conflict.Madagascar made a strong interpretive statement underlining that the question of interoperability should not constitute an obstacle for countries that sign the CCM. The CCM will encourage others outside the treaty to stop the use and transfer of cluster munitions, Madagascar said. In addition, the storage of cluster munitions owned by a state not party on the territory of a CCM state party would be a ‘weakening element' for the treaty.A number of observer states that could not sign the CCM at present delivered encouraging interventions that while they were unable to sign today, they recognized the significance and importance of the CCM and would sign as soon as possible.Iraq described the threat mines and cluster munitions pose to Iraqi civilians, including the humanitarian tragedy and the impact on agriculture and development in Iraq. Iraq welcomed the adoption of the Convention and called on the international community to provide the necessary assistance to help with clearance. Iraq announced it will sign and join as soon as possible, after the completion of national and constitutional procedures.Bangladesh maintained its commitment to disarmament initiatives and stated that it was attending the signing ceremony as a good-will gesture. While the procedure to enable signature could not be completed on time, Bangladesh stated it will sign in the future.Sudan announced that it will be signing the CCM through its mission in New York as soon as possible, once logistical and national measures are completed. Nigeria noted its long-term commitment to and active participation in the Oslo Process and said it will sign as soon as internal process as finished, and promised this will be ‘sooner rather than later.'Cambodia recognized the great importance of the CCM, but disappointingly stated that due to recent security developments in the region, the government would need more time to study how the CCM will impact Cambodia's national security and national defense requirements. ‘Do we have the courage [to sign the CCM]?' Cambodia asked. ‘Yes, we do. Do we have the commitment? Yes, we do. Let's make it happen in the near future,' Cambodia replied.Likewise, Thailand stated that it must take a closer look at the obligations under the CCM in relation to its national military capacity and readiness. Thailand said that its stocks of cluster munitions fall under the prohibition in the CCM and must be destroyed. Thailand cited concerns over the heavy cost in regard to manpower and expertise involved in destruction but stated it is seeking ways to develop a comprehensive national plan and had no intention to use cluster munitions or acquire more.Ukraine, while giving no indication it will sign, made a statement indicating its desire to be a supportive power. We wish the Oslo Process and the future of the Convention every possible success, Ukraine said.Perhaps the only other unfortunate statement of the Signing Ceremony came from Denmark today. Far from evoking the ‘Spirit of Oslo,' Denmark chose to channel the ‘Spirit of Bent Wigotski.' Denmark called for the continuation of work in the CCW, saying that, "The Oslo Convention has in number attracted the support of many countries, but unfortunately it has been unable to gain support from the largest user and producer countries, which hold around 90 % of the world's stockpiles of cluster munitions. This is particularly sad as it is primarily countries belonging to the latter group which have used unreliable and inaccurate cluster munitions in recent conflicts. These weapons unfortunately remain unregulated."The folly of the CCW aside, today was the culmination of a momentous and meaningful ceremony in Oslo. At the end of the day, the number of signatures rose to 94, with the addition of the signatures of Guinea Bissau and Cote d'Ivoire. While it was tempting to worry about the numbers and benchmarks, 94 signatures is remarkable in itself, especially given that just 2 years ago, many were saying that a ban on cluster munitions could not be achieved. In addition, many countries have indicated that they are willing to sign soon, and with the momentum going and continued pressure, the number of signatories will undoubtedly increase rapidly.The real number to focus on remains the 30 ratifications necessary for the entry into force of the CCM. Four ratifications in the 2 days in Oslo is a good beginning, but securing the remaining 26 ratifications for the earliest entry into force of the CCM possible is now the immediate priority.Positively, Honduras, Madagascar, Guinea Bissau, Burkina Faso, Mali, Lesotho, Bolivia, Senegal, Congo, Central African Republic, and Guinea pledged to ensure their ratification processes are concluded as quickly as possible, or have already begun.To everyone present in Oslo and everyone who was present in spirit - thank you for all of your tireless hard work and dedication to making this happen. As Thomas said, the success of the CCM has come from so many individual contributions adding up to far more than the sum of its parts.We made it happen! Now let's get to work on making it legal and making it a reality on the ground. But first, celebrate this achievement and have a wonderful holiday season knowing that we've helped make the world a safer, more peaceful place.Convention on Cluster Munitions Signing Conference - Update 4 December 2008 PHOTOSFor more photos check out the CMC Flickr site.