04 May 2015

Strong call for African countries to commit to cluster bomb ban

Zambia called on fellow African states to ensure they ratify or accede to the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions during an event in New York.

Chris Katota Of Zambia 599X350

Chris Katota of Zambia

A workshop on the Convention for sub-Saharan African countries was co-hosted by the Permanent Missions of Costa Rica and Croatia and organised by Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) members Norwegian People’s Aid and PAX on 16 April 2015.

Chris Katota of the Permanent Mission of Zambia in New York said, “Our decision to join the Convention was borne out of a moral conscience that civilians, particularly women and children, should never have to die or be exposed to such dangerous and indiscriminate weapons.”

During the workshop, also attended by representatives of Angola, Gabon, Kenya, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, various states parties to the Convention, and the ICRC and UNICEF, members of the CMC outlined the danger posed by this indiscriminate weapon, banned by the majority of states worldwide. The wide support available to states to ratify or accede to the Convention was also demonstrated, including offers by New Zealand, the ICRC and CMC to support states with necessary legal procedures to become States Parties to the Convention. Representative of Norway, Ambassador May-Elin Stener reiterated Norway’s support for countries to universalise and implement the treaty, remarking that “this is a convention where you can see results.”

Dinka Dumicic Maritza Chan Megan Burke Amy Little Alexandra Hiniker 599X350

Dinka Dumicic, Maritza Chan, Megan Burke, Amy Little, Alexandra Hiniker

African countries have demonstrated strong support for the global ban since its 2008 negotiation in Dublin, Ireland. Forty-two of 54 African countries have joined the Convention, though 17 of those have yet to ratify the treaty. Uganda hosted the first Africa-wide meeting on cluster munitions in 2008 and Zambia hosted a meeting of the Oslo Process to Ban Cluster Munitions in Livingstone in the same year. Ghana and Togo hosted regional meetings on the Convention on Cluster Munitions in 2012 and 2013 respectively.  Zambia hosted the Fourth Meeting of States Parties to the Convention in 2013.

Costa Rica, as current President of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, has set a goal of 100 States Parties by the Convention’s First Review Conference to be held in Dubrovnik, Croatia, from 7-11 September 2015. This goal is within reach, with just nine more states needing to ratify or accede to the treaty.

A large proportion of remaining African states should be able to complete ratification by September if domestic efforts to prioritise the Convention are increased. Six years on, those that originally signed the Convention on 3 December 2008 are particularly urged to demonstrate their commitment to this instrument of international humanitarian law by ratifying without delay. Several African states are also understood to be considering accession.

Ambassador Vladimir Drobnjak of Croatia outlined plans for a high-level segment during the Review Conference, including recognition for countries that become States Parties to the treaty before Dubrovnik. The countdown to the Dubrovnik Review Conference is on, and Africa’s continued commitment to the treaty is essential.

Supporting information shared during the workshop:

  • Amy Little presentation: ‘Why cluster munitions are banned under the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions' (English)
  • Alexandra Hiniker presentation: ‘Importance of joining the Convention on Cluster Munitions’ (English)
  • CMC Briefing paper: ‘Why and how all states should join the Convention on Cluster Munitions’ (English & French)
  • CMC Briefing paper: ‘The Conventionon Cluster Munitions’ (English & French)
  • CMC Briefing chart: ‘Convention on Cluster Munitions – status of African countries’ (English & French)
  • CMC Briefing paper: ‘Cluster Munitions - A banned weapon’ (English)
  • Model law designed by and for African states (English & French)
  • Model ratification/accession memo for Parliament (English & French)
  • ICRC Model legislation for the Convention on Cluster Munitions (English, French, Spanish)
  • New Zealand Model legislation for the Convention on Cluster Munitions (English)