06 June 2014

Palestine announces intention to join cluster bomb ban

Palestine announced its intention to join the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions during an event in Geneva.

Attending a 27 May workshop on the Convention for Arabic speaking countries hosted by Norway and facilitated by Lebanon, Geneva-based representative  of Palestine Ibrahim Musa described use of cluster munitions as a ‘a crime against humanity’.  Mr Musa stated Palestine’s intention to join the Convention on Cluster Munitions in the next group of treaties that Palestine signs. Palestine gained ‘non-member observer status’ at the United Nations in November 2012, which paved the way for it to join a number of international conventions and agencies. Palestine is not a user, producer or stockpiler of cluster munitions.

Palestine’s announcement of its intention to join the Convention on Cluster Munitions was warmly welcomed by attendees at the workshop including the Cluster Munition Coalition, International Committee of the Red Cross, and other states in attendance.Palestine also indicated its intention to join the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention.

During the workshop, also attended by representatives of Yemen and Kuwait, Lebanon outlined the legacy it still suffers from past use of cluster munitions by Israel.  The intensive use of cluster munitions during the 2006 conflict caused a humanitarian outcry worldwide. This was the trigger for the initiation of the ‘Oslo Process’; the process that paved the way for the international ban on cluster munitions, the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Cluster munitions are recognised to have a significant failure rate – believed to be 25% during the 2006 conflict in Lebanon. Despite significant clearance efforts, unexploded submunitions still remain in Lebanon and still continue to threaten and take lives. UK-based Mines Advisory Group (MAG) recently reported the danger posed to Syrian refugees camped in areas still at risk from cluster munition remnants. “We have to decide which bombs to face. Here or Syria. Here is definitely better, but I hope no-one will get killed or injured,” sixty-seven year-old Mahmoud Alsaleh a refugee from the Homs area told MAG.

Use of cluster munitions by government forces in Syria has been widespread and is ongoing. July 2014 will mark the second anniversary since use of the banned weapon was first reported in the conflict. Human Rights Watch has identified at least 224 locations in 10 of Syria’s 14 governorates where cluster munitions have been used. At least six types of cluster munitions and seven types of explosive submunitions have been used in the conflict to date causing widespread civilian casualties.  This use has been condemned by at least 151 countries including via two UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolutions.  

The Cluster Munition Coalition calls on Syria to immediately cease use of this banned weapon and urges governments worldwide not to ignore this horror.  Through mine risk education, clear warnings are also needed for communities about the terrible danger unexploded bomblets pose, and cluster munition remnants must be cleared and destroyed as soon as it is safe to do so. Sadly as Lebanon can testify, once the conflict is over in Syria, the danger from cluster munition remnants will continue to threaten Syria’s civilian population. 

CCM MENA Universalization (600x400).jpgL-R: Wael al Shairie (Kuwait), Ibrahim Musa (Palestine), Ayman Sorour (Cluster Munition Coalition), Ahmad Arafa (Lebanon) © CMC