01 May 2009

Cluster Bomb Ban Campaign Accepts Peace Prize in Ireland

Photo: Emma Jervis/ Press 22

(Tipperary, Ireland, 1 May 2009) - The Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) today accepted the 2008 Tipperary International Peace Award in recognition of its successful five-year campaign to outlaw cluster bombs.

“We are grateful to the Tipperary Peace Convention for recognizing the coalition with this award, but our success banning cluster bombs was the result of the strong partnership forged between likeminded governments and civil society and not the CMC’s work alone,” said CMC coordinator Mr. Thomas Nash.

“Ireland was a crucial partner in the movement to ban cluster bombs and we urge the government to continue its strong engagement to ensure that the new treaty takes effect as quickly as possibleIreland hosted the diplomatic negotiations of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which was adopted on the final day of the conference on May 30 2008. The Convention was opened for signature on 3 December 2008 and to date a total of 96 countries have signed, of which six have ratified (Austria, Holy See, Ireland, Lao PDR, Norway, Sierra Leone). A total of 30 ratifications are required for the Convention to take effect."We are only now beginning the really challenging work with respect to cluster munitions,"said Mr. Branislav Kapetanovic, a Serbian cluster bomb survivor and former deminer who accepted the award on behalf of the CMC. "We now need to ensure that the Convention on Cluster Munitions is fully implemented and respected by all."The Convention on Cluster Munitions comprehensively prohibits cluster munitions, sets strict deadlines for clearance of contaminated land and destruction of stockpiles, and includes groundbreaking provisions for assistance to victims and affected communities."We urge Ireland and other clearance donors to recognize that the cluster bomb problem will not disappear just because we now have a treaty,"said Ms. Lamis Zein, a cluster bomb clearance site supervisor with Norwegian People's Aid in south Lebanon. "Increased funding commitments are also urgently needed to ensure that countries that are heavily affected by cluster bombs, such as mine, can quickly clear contaminated land and provide long-term assistance to victims."The Tipperary International Peace Award was accepted by CMC representative Branislav Kapetanovic at a special ceremony held in Tipperary, Ireland on 1 May 2009. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the award. Previous recipients include US President William J. Clinton, Live-Aid organiser Bob Geldof, South African President Nelson Mandela, and Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.The CMC is a global coalition launched in November 2003 to stop cluster bombs from harming civilians. Comprised of 300 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in more than 80 countries, the CMC is co-chaired by representatives of three member NGOs (Human Rights Watch, Landmine Action UK, and Norwegian People's Aid) on behalf of a Steering Committee of 14 NGOs. A small London-based staff ensures implementation of the campaign's activities to universalize and ensure adherence of the Convention on Cluster Munitions.A cluster bomb or munition is a weapon containing dozens or hundreds of small explosive submunitions or bomblets. Dropped from the air or fired from the ground, cluster munitions break open in mid-air releasing submunitions over a wide area. Their widespread dispersal causes civilian casualties when the weapon is used in populated areas. Many submunitions fail to explode as intended, leading de facto landmines behind that that threaten communities for years, often decades after their use.***ENDS***For more information, please contact:Jean-Marc Jacobs, +447515575174Spokespersons:- Branislav Kapetanovic, CMC- Thomas Nash, CMC Coordinator- Colm O'Gorman, Amnesty International Ireland, DirectorSPEECHESSpeech by Martin Quinn, Secretary, Tipperary Peace Convention, 1 May 2009Speech by Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheál Martin, T.D., 1 May 2009Speech by Branislav Kapetanovi?, CMC Spokesperson, 1 May 2009