12 April 2009

Open letter to all Member States of the Organization of American States

We respectfully urge all Member States of the Organization of American States (OAS) that have notyet done so to sign the new international Convention on Cluster Munitions at the United Nations inNew York where it is now open for signature. Adherence to the Convention on Cluster Munitionswould show states' commitment to protecting civilians from these indiscriminate weapons.A total of 96 states have signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions. This Convention bans the use,production, transfer and stockpiling of cluster munitions. It is the most significant disarmament andhumanitarian treaty to be negotiated in the last 10 years. With full implementation, it will savecountless lives and through its clearance and victim assistance obligations it will make a real differenceto the lives of those already affected.So far, 15 Member States of the OAS have signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions: Bolivia,Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, NicaraguaPanama, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay. We urge them to ratify the Convention on Cluster Munitions assoon as possible. In addition, Argentina, Belize, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and Venezuelaformally adopted the Convention at the Dublin Diplomatic Conference in May 2008, but have yet tosign.Fortunately, cluster munition contamination in the Americas region is minimal compared to that ofother world regions. The Convention is largely a preventative treaty that will ensure that clustermunitions do not cause a humanitarian catastrophe on the same scale as seen with landmines. Ninecountries in the region stockpile cluster munitions and four countries have produced cluster munitions,including the world's largest user, producer and stockpiler - the United States. It is essential that thesecountries sign up to the prohibition and comply with obligations to destroy existing stockpiles andprevent future use that would cause civilian loss of life and livelihoods.We thank you for your urgent attention to this life-saving humanitarian matter.Open letter to all Member States of the Organization of American States, April 2009