/ 30 May 2008

Convention banning cluster bombs adopted

A landmark international convention banning cluster munitions was formally adopted by 111 countries in Dublin, Ireland, on Friday in a move supporters hope will stigmatise the lethal weapons as much as landmines.

There were no objections to its adoption, which came after 12 days of robust negotiations. Signatories vow to outlaw the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of cluster munitions, help victims and clear contaminated areas.

Conference president Daithi O’Ceallaigh said: ”I propose that we formally adopt the text of the convention on cluster munitions. We agreed to do this on Wednesday evening. I propose that we adopt the convention text as a whole.

”I see no objections. The convention is adopted.”

The adoption of the treaty, which has been spearheaded by Norway, sparked applause and a standing ovation from delegates.

Countries then took turns to make statements on the convention.

Politicians and campaigners have described the pact as hugely significant, despite the absence of key powers like the United States, China and Russia, which has led to criticisms about its worth.

Slovenia, which currently holds the rotating European Union presidency, welcomed the adoption of the convention.

”The EU has repeatedly expressed the need to address urgently the humanitarian problems posed by these weapons and the need to conclude a legally binding instrument by the end of 2008,” said Irina Gorsic, minister counsellor from the Slovenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

”The text in front of us, which reflects the numerous views and concerns expressed over these two weeks, will have a tremendous positive influence on the ground and does respond to the calls made by victims for a safer and better world.

”It provides a comprehensive framework for international cooperation and victim assistance and imposes strict destruction obligations on countries currently holding these weapons in their stockpiles.”

The convention is due to be signed in Oslo on December 2 and 3. States then have to ratify the pact. — AFP