14 September 2009


Press release:LATIN AMERICAN STATES PLOT PATH TO ERADICATE CLUSTER BOMBSRegional meeting against weapon held in Chile(Santiago: 14 September 2009) Leading Latin American nations joined campaigners in calling on Caribbean nations as well as hold-out countries Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela to join the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions today, as a regional conference on the treaty opened in Chile."We would never have banned cluster bombs without this region's leadership, but our mission will not be completed without Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela and the Caribbean on board,"said Pamela Velásquez, of the Instituto de Ecología Política, a CMC member in Chile. "They need to get back on the right side of history by signing the Convention on Cluster Munitions now."The meeting, aimed at promoting ratification and further signature of the treaty, is part of the Norwegian-led ‘Oslo Process' that led to the signature of the global ban treaty in December 2008. To date the treaty has been signed by 98 countries, of which 17 have ratified. For the treaty to enter into force and become fully legally binding 30 countries must ratify.The region has 15 signatories: Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay; and 17 non-signatories: Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Brazil, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela. Of these Argentina, Belize, Dominican Republic and Venezuela negotiated and adopted the treaty, but failed to sign.The conference is a key opportunity to engage the Caribbean from which so far only Jamaica is a signatory. Caribbean States bear no complex obligations under the treaty as none stockpiles cluster bombs and only Grenada, where the US used the weapon in 1983, has been affected."Every single Caribbean nation has signed the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, thereby contributing to the effective global stigma that now exists against landmines,"said Folade Mutota, CMC campaigner in Trinidad and Tobago. "The same role is there for the Caribbean to play on cluster bombs."Latin America played a leading role in the ‘Oslo process', with Mexico and Peru both part of the seven nation ‘core group' that led the work towards the treaty. Both nations hosted key meetings of the process, as did Costa Rica and Ecuador. Diplomats from the region championed the cause of victim assistance, whose provisions in the treaty are stronger than in any legal instrument ever agreed. Four out of the six countries in the region that have stockpiled cluster munitions are signatories: Chile, Colombia, Honduras and Peru. Chile and Colombia are close to completing destruction of their stocks and Honduras destroyed them previously. Brazil, which is the region's last remaining producer and Argentina, which also stockpiled the weapon, have not yet signed."Argentina and Brazil argue for these indiscriminate weapons while Chile, Colombia and Peru are destroying them. By not signing up to the ban they undermine regional security and solidarity and tarnish Latin America's role as a global leader on human rights and humanitarian affairs,"said Maria Pía Devoto, CMC member and Director of the Association of Public Policies in Argentina.Upon signing the treaty in Oslo last year, Deputy Foreign Minister Alberto Van Klaveren noted Chile's commitment to "accelerate the process of treaty ratification and universalisation."Campaigners are seeking Chile's ratification before the end of President Bachelet's current term in office on 11 March 2010. Of the 17 States to have ratified so far, only Mexico is from the region, although Nicaragua and Uruguay have completed ratification procedures and are awaiting formal deposit at the United Nations in New York.Press ReleaseCONTACTThomas Nash, Cluster Munition Coalition, tel. +44 7711 926 730, thomas@stopclustermunitions.orgPamela Velasquez, Instituto de Ecología Política, tel. +56 9820 3583, pamevelasquez@gmail.comNOTESRepresentatives will attend from the following signatory States in the region: Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay. In addition, the following non-signatory States will attend: Argentina, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela. Canada, Norway and Spain, three of the 20 treaty signatories amongst the 28-member NATO alliance, will also attend as well as Lao PDR, prospective host of the First Meeting of the States Parties expected to be held in late 2010.About cluster bombs:A cluster bomb is a weapon containing multiple - often hundreds - of small explosive submunitions. They are dropped from the air or fired from the ground and designed to break open in mid-air, releasing the submunitions over an area that can be the size of several football fields. This means they cannot discriminate between civilians and soldiers. Many of the submunitions fail to explode on impact and remain a threat to lives and livelihoods for decades after a conflict.About the CCM:The global ban on cluster munitions is the latest development in this field of international law. The treaty bans the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster munitions and places obligations on countries to clear affected areas, assist victims and destroy stockpiles. It is the most significant treaty of its kind since the ban on anti-personnel landmines in 1997. Like the Mine Ban Treaty, this new treaty is likely to have a powerful effect in stigmatising cluster bombs, so that even those countries that do not sign the treaty will not be able to use them without being subject to international condemnation. Six months after the 30th country has ratified the Convention, it will enter into force and become fully legally-binding. This is expected to happen sometime in 2010 and the First Meeting of States Parties, may take place later that year.About the CMC:The CMC is an international coalition of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working in 80 countries to encourage urgent action against cluster bombs. The CMC facilitates the efforts of NGOs worldwide to educate governments, the public and the media about the problems of cluster munitions and the solution through the global treaty banning the weapon.The following 98 countries have signed the Convention:Afghanistan, Albania, Angola, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Comoros, DR Congo, Republic of Congo, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Côte D'Ivoire, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, El Salvador, Fiji, France, Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, The Holy See, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Lao PDR, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar , Malawi, Mali, Malta, Mexico, Republic of Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Rwanda, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tomé and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Slovenia, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Zambia.Of these the following 17 countries have ratified the Convention:Albania (16 Jun 2009), Austria (2 Apr 2009), Croatia (17 Aug 2009), The Holy See (3 Dec 2008), Germany (8 Jul 2009), Ireland (3 Dec 2008), Japan (14 Jul 2009), Lao PDR (18 Mar 2009), Luxembourg (10 Jul 2009), Mexico (6 May 2009), Niger (2 Jun 2009), Norway (3 Dec 2008), San Marino (10 Jul 2009), Sierra Leone (3 Dec 2008), Slovenia (19 Aug 2009), Spain (17 Jun 2009), Zambia (12 Aug 2009).