18 June 2009

Spain and Albania push cluster bomb ban ratifications into double figures

Photo: UN Treaty Section 

On 16th and 17th June, Albania and Spain both deposited their instrument of ratification of the Convention on Cluster Munitions at the United Nations in New York, becoming respectively the 9th and 10th countries to ratify.

Just five days after Jamaica and Nigeria signed the treaty, which has already gathered 98 signatories since opening for signature in December last year, these ratifications show the continuing strong momentum behind the treaty banning cluster bombs. Now just 20 more countries must ratify the treaty to reach the threshold of 30 required for it to enter into force and take full legal effect.
Spain has never used cluster bombs, but has produced and stockpiled them. After adopting the comprehensive treaty at the final negotiations in Dublin in May 2008, Spain declared a unilateral moratorium on use, production, and transfer of cluster munitions the next month. After signing in December, Spain became the first signatory country to announce that it had destroyed its entire stockpile in March.Albania has never used, produced or stockpiled cluster munitions but was affected by them during the Balkans conflict in 1999 when they were used by forces of the former Yugoslavia killing nine people and injuring 44.An entire border area of 2.1 million square metres in northeast Albania was contaminated.During treaty negotiations Albania emphasized its experience as an affected country to demonstrate the humanitarian harm caused by cluster munitions. The country was and remains a strong advocate for the very strong provisions on victim assistance in the treaty. Albania has also committed to clearing the unexploded cluster munitions on its territory much earlier than the 10 year deadline set by the convention.