7 November 2007

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York



Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message to the 2007 meeting of the High Contracting Parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, as delivered by Sergio Duarte, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, in Geneva today, 7 November:

I am pleased to send my warmest greetings to all participants of the 2007 meeting of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.

A year after the third Review Conference, you are at an important juncture in the evolution of this vital Convention.  The atrocious, inhumane impact of cluster munitions requires urgent action.  The characteristics of these munitions, with their inherent inaccuracy and their frequent malfunctioning, make them particularly indiscriminate both at the time of use and long after conflicts have ended.  They pose significant challenges for international humanitarian law.

I urge you to address the horrendous humanitarian, human rights and developmental effects of cluster munitions by concluding a legally binding instrument of international humanitarian law.  The instrument should prohibit the use, development, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm to civilians.  It should require the destruction of current stockpiles of those munitions.  And it should provide for clearance and risk mitigation activities, victim assistance, cooperation and compliance and transparency measures.

Until such a legal instrument is adopted, I ask that you take domestic measures to immediately freeze the use and transfer of all cluster munitions.

It is disappointing that, after five years of intensive efforts, you were unsuccessful in addressing the long-term humanitarian and developmental impact of mines other than anti-personnel mines.

I am encouraged, however, by the establishment of a compliance and cooperation mechanism for the Convention and all its Protocols.  The strength of any treaty lies in thorough implementation and strict compliance.  An early agreement to further enhance an effective, flexible and transparent compliance and cooperation mechanism will represent an important gain.

The Convention is still short of universal membership.  I welcome the practical steps you have taken to achieve wider adherence, especially among developing countries and States affected by mines and explosive remnants of war.

I am particularly encouraged that you have adopted, and are already engaged in, the implementation of the Plan of Action to Promote Universality and the Sponsorship Programme.  I urge all States that have not yet done so to consider acceding, as soon as possible, to the Convention and its Protocols.

The United Nations will continue to strongly support you in these crucial efforts.  In that spirit, I wish you every success in your deliberations.

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For information media • not an official record