02 April 2009

CMC welcomes Austria Ratification of Cluster Ban Treaty

Photo: UN Treaty SectionAustria urged to maintain its leading role in achieving a global banOn April 2, Austria became the 6th country to formally ratify the Convention on Cluster Munitions by depositing its legal instrument at the United Nations in New York. After playing a key role in the development of the treaty and signing it in December in Oslo, the ratification shows the continued commitment of Austria to a world free of cluster bombs.In addition to banning the use, transfer, production and stockpiling of cluster munitions the treaty contains strong provisions to support affected communities and to clear contaminated land. Adhering to the treaty is a commitment to reducing deaths and injuries by making the use of the weapon unlawful and by limiting the impact of unexploded bomblets.Ambassador Alexander Marschik, Head of the Department for Disarmament in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, deposited the official documents making Austria the 6th country to ratify the treaty after the Holy See, Ireland, Lao PDR, Norway and Sierra Leone."This is great news", said Judith Majlath of the Austrian branch of the Cluster Munition Coalition. "We can only congratulate the Austrian authorities which have followed up on their commitment to ban this terrible weapon and save more civilian lives. But it does not stop here, we need the Government to keep the issue high on the international agenda, and to convince more countries to sign, ratify and implement the treaty. As a member of the UN Security Council, Austria is in unique position to influence other countries".Austria has been a driving force since the very early days of the treaty negotiations and development and even hosted in December 2007 the third international conference of the process leading to the signature event in Oslo a year later.Austria is a pioneering country in the struggle against cluster bombs. In January 2008, well before the treaty was developed, a law became effective prohibiting the use, production, development and transfer of cluster munitions. It also prohibits sensor-fused munitions and requires the destruction of all stockpiles within 3 years."The treaty is only 4 months old", said Thomas Nash, coordinator of the Cluster Munition Coalition, "and it is encouraging that countries like Austria have decided to make their signature count by ratifying swiftly. We can only urge more countries to follow their lead so that the treaty becomes internationally binding as soon as possible".30 ratifications are needed before the treaty becomes internationally binding. In a recent event held at the United Nations in New York where the Democratic Republic of Congo signed and Laos ratified the treaty, many countries reiterated their commitment and promised to make the ratification process as quick as possible at national level.To this date, 96 countries have signed the treaty and 6 have now ratified it.FURTHER INFORMATION:Press Release of the Austrian Ministry of Foreign AffairsTreaty Status