UN official urges more states to join cluster munitions treaty

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[JURIST] UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro [official profile] on Tuesday praised the nations that have signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) [text; official website] and urged more states to join the convention [statement] at the First Meeting of States Parties [official website]. The CCM, which went into effect [JURIST report] as binding international law in August, bans the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of cluster bombs—weapons that break apart, releasing large numbers of smaller, self-contained explosives that spread out before detonating on impact. The purpose of the meeting was to bring state parties, UN agencies, international organizations, civil society and cluster munitions survivors together to discuss plans on the convention’s implementation. Migiro also praised the progress that has been made since the implementation of the ban:

The Convention on Cluster Munitions has given a great boost to international humanitarian law. It is unambiguous in banning the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of cluster munitions. It sets out clear obligations for clearing unexploded ordnance, for educating populations about the risks they face, and for assisting victims. It provides a framework for action in post-conflict scenarios, with strong provisions for international assistance and national planning. … Until recently, many governments considered cluster munitions indispensable to their military strategies. But they proved themselves open to the arguments of those who said that such policies and practices were out of step with international norms – that they caused indiscriminate harm, and could jeopardize a country’s recovery and development.

Beyond the ban, the UN wants to implement other elements of the treaty that call for assisting victims, donating assistance and cooperating with affected countries. Since its adoption in August, the convention now boasts increasing support in a recent update of 108 signatures and 45 countries that have ratified the treaty.

The CCM was officially opened for signature [JURIST report] in December 2008 at a conference in Oslo, Norway. It has been deemed one of the most significant disarmament and humanitarian treaties in more than a decade since the implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty in 1997 that prohibited the use and stockpiling of antipersonnel mines. The US is one of the countries that still has not signed the treaty. The US claims that the ban would impede humanitarian efforts [JURIST report] by discouraging cooperation with non-signatories. However, the US did adopt a formal policy [text, PDF] on cluster munitions in June 2008 “intended to minimize the potential unintended harm to civilians and civilian infrastructure.”

Read more detail on JURIST – Paper Chase

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