21 October 2009

UN: States Urged to Support Swift Global Ban on Cluster Bomb

Only Seven Ratifications Needed for Treaty to Become Binding International Law(New York, 21 October 2009) - Governments should redouble their efforts to sign and ratify the 2008 global treaty banning cluster bombs, the Cluster Munition Coalition said today at a special event held during talks on disarmament and international security in the UN General Assembly."We urge all signatories to ratify as quickly as possible in order to trigger entry into force of the Convention on Cluster Munitions," said Thomas Nash, Coordinator of the Cluster Munition Coalition. "Only once the Convention becomes binding will the countdown begin for clearance of contaminated land and destruction of remaining stockpiles."The Convention on Cluster Munitions comprehensively bans cluster munitions, sets strict deadlines for clearance of contaminated land and destruction of stockpiles of the weapon, and requires assistance to victims and affected communities. A total of 100 governments have signed the Convention since December 2008, of which 23 have ratified. Thirty ratifications are needed for the Convention to enter into force and become binding international law six months later."We call on governments that have not yet signed the Convention to reconsider their stance on banning this weapon as world opinion now stands against any use of cluster munitions," said Marion Libertucci, Chief Advocacy Officer at Handicap International France. "The humanitarian provisions of the Convention should also be supported by all governments given the devastating impact of cluster munitions on civilian populations."Around half the world's stockpilers, producers or former users of cluster munitions have joined the ban, including the world's third-largest user in the past decade, the United Kingdom. Recent users, Israel, Russia and the United States are outside the ban, however in March US President Obama signed into law a unilateral export ban covering virtually all US cluster munitions.Before they can ratify, several signatories must, according to their domestic laws, first pass national implementation legislation. Campaigners in Australia, Canada, Denmark, New Zealand, Sweden, the United Kingdom and elsewhere are working to ensure strong legislation with clear interpretation of key provisions, such as the ban on assisting non-signatory states with prohibited acts.Lao PDR, the world's most cluster bombed country, is set to host the First Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which could take place toward the end of 2010.CONTACTIn New York, Conor Fortune: +1-973-903-7098; or cfortune@stopclustermunitions.org NOTESAbout cluster bombsA cluster munition (or cluster bomb) is a weapon containing multiple - often hundreds - of small explosive submunitions or bomblets. Cluster munitions 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 Convention on Cluster MunitionsThe Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) bans the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster munitions and requires countries to clear affected areas within 10 years and destroy stockpiles of the weapon within eight. The CCM includes groundbreaking provisions requiring assistance to victims and affected communities. Signed in Oslo in December 2008, it is the most significant international disarmament treaty since the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty banning antipersonnel landmines.About the Cluster Munition Coalition (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 NGO efforts worldwide to educate governments, the public and the media about the problems of cluster munitions and to urge universalisation and full implementation of the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions.http://www.stopclustermunitions.org/The following 100 countries have signed the ConventionAfghanistan, 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, Cyprus, 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, St. Vincent and Grenadines, 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 23 countries have ratified the ConventionAlbania (16 Jun 2009), Austria (2 Apr 2009), Burundi (25 Sep 2009), Croatia (17 Aug 2009), The Holy See (3 Dec 2008), France (25 Sep 2009), Germany (8 Jul 2009), Ireland (3 Dec 2008), Japan (14 Jul 2009), Lao PDR (18 Mar 2009), Luxembourg (10 Jul 2009), Macedonia (8 Oct 2009), Malawi (7 Oct 2009), Malta (24 Sep 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), Uruguay (24 Sep 2009), Zambia (12 Aug 2009).