15 June 2009

Nigeria and Jamaica join cluster bomb ban treaty

Ambassador U. Joy Ogwu of Nigeria 

On Friday 12 June, Jamaica and Nigeria became the 97th and 98th signatories of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, just six months after the international treaty opened for signature. Recent signatures and ratifications of the treaty in diverse regions show that consensus around a world free of cluster bombs is growing.

Ambassadors U. Joy Ogwu of Nigeria and Raymond Wolfe of Jamaica signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions on behalf of their governments on Friday at the United Nations in New York.
"Having Nigeria and Jamaica among the signatories is very encouraging," said Thomas Nash, coordinator of the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC). "Now we need them to make their signatures count by ratifying swiftly and advocating in favour of the treaty in their respective regions. We also urge Nigeria, as a stockpiler, to start the process to destroy its cluster munitions as soon as possible."As one of the few countries in Africa to have used the weapon in the past, Nigeria's signature bears particular significance and should influence the other countries in the region that have not joined the treaty. Earlier this month, neighbouring Niger followed up on its signature by ratifying the Convention.Eight countries have ratified the treaty and 22 more are needed for it to enter into force and become legally binding. As leaders in the Oslo Process to ban cluster bombs, the CMC is calling on African nations to ratify the treaty swiftly in order to trigger entry into force."We worked really hard with different Ministries to achieve this," said Mimidoo Achakpa of IANSA Women Network, CMC member in Nigeria. "But this is only the first step in the right direction as Nigeria still has more hurdles to pass: ratification, domestic law, stockpile destruction. Civil society will not rest until these goals are reached".
Jamaica is the first country in the Caribbean to sign the treaty. The CMC urges Jamaica as a key regional leader to convince its fellow Caribbean nations to join the treaty. Although no Caribbean state stockpiles cluster munitions, the use of the weapon by the United States in Grenada in 1982 shows that no region of the world is immune to its indiscriminate effects. Today Caribbean states have an opportunity to play an important role in bringing about change in international law by signing and ratifying this crucial treaty. Ambassador Raymond Wolfe of Jamaica
On 25 and 26 June countries that have signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions have been invited to Berlin by the German government to discuss stockpile destruction. This is the first time all signatory countries are invited to discuss the Convention since the Oslo Signing Conference in December 2008. The Cluster Munition Coalition encourages Jamaica and Nigeria to take part in this important step towards making the treaty a reality on the ground.