For Immediate Release: May 30, 2008
Contact: Daryl G. Kimball, (202) 463-8270 x107, Wade Boese, (202) 463-8270 x104, or Jeff Abramson, (202) 463-8270 x109
(Washington, D.C.): Today, more than 100 countries in Dublin took an important step to make the world safer by reaching agreement on a treaty to outlaw nearly all cluster munitions, an indiscriminant weapon that has maimed and killed tens of thousands of noncombatants worldwide. Experts from the independent, nonpartisan Arms Control Association welcome the treaty as a humanitarian triumph and urge all governments to sign the accord and reduce wartime and post-conflict dangers to innocent civilians.
“The Cluster Munitions Convention will save lives and prevent disabling injuries worldwide by prohibiting weapons that are not essential for the world’s military forces and that wreak a terrible human toll,” said Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association. He added, “All the governments and non-governmental groups that worked together in Dublin should be proud of this tremendous accomplishment, but the Norwegian government deserves special praise for taking the initiative when major powers failed to act.”
In November 2006, Norway announced that it would lead an effort to limit cluster munitions after the United States, Russia, and some other countries party to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) refused at that time to initiate negotiations on those weapons, which are bombs, rockets, and artillery shells that disperse smaller submunitions over broad areas. Sometimes those submunitions initially fail to explode, posing potentially lethal risks to anyone that might later disturb them. The CCW subsequently initiated cluster munitions talks but with a narrower scope than those led by Norway.
The so-called “Oslo process” began in 2007 and today unveiled a draft treaty that requires the destruction of all forbidden cluster munitions and the clearance of all areas afflicted with unexploded cluster submunition remnants. Future states-parties may only retain for combat cluster munitions that have five characteristics, such as self-destruct mechanisms, that diminish risks to noncombatants. The accord also includes measures for international assistance to victims of cluster munitions. Countries will be able to officially sign the treaty this December and then it will enter into force six months after 30 governments sign and ratify it.
“Although it did not participate in the Oslo process, the United States should join other countries later this year in signing the accord otherwise it will find itself on the wrong side of what is an emerging international humanitarian consensus,” said Jeff Abramson, a conventional weapons expert at the Arms Control Association.