NEW TREATY BANNING CLUSTER MUNITIONS OPENS FOR SIGNATURE IN OSLO

DC/3147
3 December 2008

NEW TREATY BANNING CLUSTER MUNITIONS OPENS FOR SIGNATURE IN OSLO

3 December 2008
Press Release
DC/3147
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

NEW TREATY BANNING CLUSTER MUNITIONS OPENS FOR SIGNATURE IN OSLO


NEW YORK, 3 December (UN Mine Action Service)-- An international treaty that prohibits the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster munitions is opening for signature in Oslo, Norway today.


The new Convention on Cluster Munitions -— or CCM -— “marks a major step forward in global efforts to protect civilians and control the noxious spread of deadly, inhumane weapons”, wrote the Secretary-General in a message to the Oslo signing event.  “The horrific humanitarian impact of cluster munitions is well known,” he added.  “During and long after conflict, they have maimed and killed scores of refugees, nurses, journalists, passers-by, women and men working in fields and orchards, and children helping with household chores or at play.”


At least 15 countries and a number of non-State actors are known to have used cluster munitions in at least 32 countries or territories.  Thirty-four countries have produced more than 200 types of cluster munitions.  Billions of these munitions are stockpiled in 75 countries.


The CCM was adopted by 107 States at a conference in Dublin, Ireland in May 2008 and is being signed today and tomorrow by States in Oslo.  The CCM will enter into force six months after 30 States ratify it and deposit their “instruments of ratification” with the Secretary-General.


“The conclusion of this Convention indicates a significant and fundamental change in the position of many governments that, until recently, regarded cluster munitions as essential to their security policies and military doctrines,” the Secretary-General noted.


The CCM defines a cluster munition as a “conventional munition that is designed to disperse or release explosive submunitions each weighing less than 20 kilograms…”  The CCM therefore applies to all types of cluster munitions that have been used so far.


The most recent large-scale use of cluster munitions occurred in 2006, when millions of these devices were targeted at southern Lebanon.  Hundreds of thousands of munitions failed to explode on impact and remained on the ground, on rooftops, and in agricultural areas, so far killing or injuring more than 300 civilians.  In October this year, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, bestowed his organization’s top honour -— the Nansen Refugee Award -— to the United Nations Mine Action Coordination Centre of South Lebanon and its demining staff and partners, which together led the international effort to clean up the deadly cluster munitions.


“There remains much work to do in mitigating the dreadful humanitarian suffering caused by cluster weapons, and the United Nations is firmly committed to continuing those efforts,” the Secretary-General said.

Since 2006, the Secretary-General has been calling for a legally binding international instrument to mitigate the “horrific” impact of cluster munitions on civilians.  In addition to the so-called “Oslo Process”, which culminated in the new CCM, the United Nations has been supporting a similar initiative through the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, and negotiations are expected to continue in 2009.


In 2009, the United Nations Mine Action Team will support projects to remove and destroy cluster munitions and other explosive remnants of war, teach people how to stay out of harm’s way, and assist the victims of these devices in Cambodia, Chad, Ethiopia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, southern Lebanon, Tajikistan, Western Sahara, and Zambia.  A description of these initiatives will appear in the 2009 edition of the annual “Portfolio of Mine Action Projects”, which will be released in New York tomorrow.  The Portfolio describes 300 mine action initiatives planned in 33 countries, territories or peacekeeping missions in 2009.  The United Nations Mine Action Team comprises representatives from the 14 United Nations departments, agencies, programs and funds that are involved in mine action. 


Contact Richard Kollodge, UN Mine Action Service, New York, at 212 963 5677, e-mail:  kollodge@un.org.


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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.