22 December 2009

New Zealand: Ratification brings cluster bomb ban treaty closer to binding international law

Ambassador Jim McLay, New Zealand's Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York, deposits his government's ratification instrument. Photo Credit: UN Treaty SectionNational legislation prohibits investment in cluster munition producers(London, 22 December 2009) – New Zealand’s ratification of the international treaty banning cluster munitions and its strong domestic implementing law affirm its leadership role in the international movement to ban the weapon, the Cluster Munition Coalition said today.On 22 December 2009, New Zealand deposited its instrument of ratification at the United Nations in New York, becoming the 25th signatory to ratify. Days earlier – on 10 December – the New Zealand parliament unanimously passed comprehensive legislation to implement the treaty, including a prohibition on investment in cluster munition producers."New Zealand’s ratification of the Convention on Cluster Munitions brings this agreement one step closer toward becoming binding international law," said Mary Wareham, coordinator of the Aotearoa New Zealand Cluster Munition Coalition. "We hope that other states, particularly in Asia and the Pacific, will sign and ratify this life-saving treaty without delay."In the year since it was opened for signature in December 2008, a total of 104 states have signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which comprehensively prohibits cluster munitions, requires clearance of contaminated land and destruction of stockpiles of the weapon, and includes groundbreaking provisions for assistance to victims and affected communities. Thirty ratifications are needed for the Convention to enter into force and become binding international law six months later. A total of 25 signatories have ratified the Convention to date, including three states from the Asia-Pacific region: Japan, Laos, and New Zealand."New Zealand’s implementing legislation enforces the treaty domestically and prohibits investment in companies that manufacture cluster munitions," said Wareham. "While there’s always room for improvement, we urge other nations to use this law as a model when they consider domestic implementation measures to enforce the Convention on Cluster Munitions."New Zealand is the third nation worldwide to include a disinvestment provision in legislation to implement the Convention on Cluster Munitions, following laws passed by Ireland (October 2008) and Luxembourg (May 2009). In March 2007, Belgium became the first nation in the world to prohibit investment through a specific legislation, while Denmark, Norway and Switzerland are considering legislation to prohibit investment in companies that produce cluster munitions. During parliamentary consideration of the Bill, the New Zealand government had stated that it considered investment to be already prohibited by the Convention, but parliamentarians heeded a call by the domestic campaign to make the ban explicit in the proposed implementing legislation.New Zealand was a member of the seven-nation ‘core group’ that took responsibility for the Oslo Process, a diplomatic initiative held outside of traditional diplomatic fora, which resulted in the successful adoption of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. In February 2008, New Zealand hosted a pivotal meeting of the Oslo Process in Wellington attended by 106 governments and more than 100 civil society representatives. During the Dublin negotiations of the treaty, New Zealand’s Ambassador Don MacKay played a key role in securing diplomatic support for a comprehensive definition of the weapon.The Asia-Pacific region is the most heavily affected by cluster munitions, particularly Afghanistan, Cambodia, Lao PDR and Vietnam. While Afghanistan has signed and Lao PDR has already ratified, affected states Cambodia and Vietnam have yet to join the Convention. Lao PDR is expected to host the First Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions in late 2010.Read more on the ANZCMC website: http://www.stopclusterbombs.org.nz/2009/12/23/new-zealand-ratifies-cluster-bomb-ban/