(London) July 8, 2010 – The European Parliament passed a resolution today calling on European Union member states to sign and ratify the Convention on Cluster Munitions “as a matter of urgency,” the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) said today. The Convention enters into force and becomes binding international law on August 1.
“We welcome this strong resolution that leaves no room for confusion – EU countries must take urgent action to sign and ratify this landmark humanitarian treaty before it takes effect next month,” said Judith Majlath, CMC representative in Austria who collaborated on the new resolution. “There will never be a better time to join this treaty and to put its life-saving provisions into action.”
The resolution calls on EU member states to sign and ratify the Convention before 1 August, and to:
- promote the Convention among states that have not joined;
- implement the Convention and provide assistance to other states to implement it;
- not support a cluster munitions protocol to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) that would be incompatible with the Convention on Cluster Munitions; and
- participate in the First Meeting of States Parties, which will be hosted in Lao PDR in November 2010.
Twenty out of 27 EU member states have signed the Convention and 11 have already ratified, including Belgium, which assumed the rotating six-month EU presidency on July 1. The nine EU member states that have signed but not yet ratified are: Bulgaria; Cyprus; Czech Republic; Hungary; Italy; Lithuania; the Netherlands; Portugal; and Sweden. The seven that have not yet signed are: Estonia;Finland; Greece; Latvia; Poland; Romania; and Slovakia.
The Convention comprehensively bans the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster munitions, sets strict deadlines for clearance of contaminated land (within 10 years) and destruction of stockpiles of the weapon (within eight years), and includes groundbreaking provisions for victim assistance to help survivors and communities affected by the weapons. Globally, 106 countries have signed the treaty, of which 37 have already ratified.
Following the Convention’s entry into force on August 1, all of its obligations become legally binding and states will then be required to join the treaty through accession – a single step that in effect combines the dual steps of signing and ratifying.
The CMC urges all countries to join the Convention without delay and to participate in the First Meeting of States Parties in November 2010 in Vientiane, Lao PDR, the most cluster bomb -affected country in the world.
On August 1, the CMC will mark the Convention’s entry into force together with its key partners in governments as well as United Nations agencies and international organisations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). CMC members worldwide are taking part in coordinated campaign actions to celebrate this historic milestone, and many events and actions will be built around the slogan, “Beat the drum to ban cluster bombs!” For more information, visit: http://www.stopclustermunitions.org/countdown/
About cluster bombs
A cluster munition (or cluster bomb) is a weapon containing multiple – often hundreds – of small explosive submunitions or bomblets. Cluster munitions are dropped from the air or fired from the ground and designed to break open in mid-air, releasing the submunitions over an area that can be the size of several football fields. This means they cannot discriminate between civilians and soldiers. Many of the submunitions fail to explode on impact and remain a threat to lives and livelihoods for decades after a conflict.
About the Convention on Cluster Munitions
The Convention on Cluster Munitions bans the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster munitions and requires countries to clear affected areas within 10 years and destroy stockpiles of the weapon within eight. The Convention includes groundbreaking provisions requiring assistance to victims and affected communities. Signed in Oslo in December 2008, it is the most significant international disarmament treaty since the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty banning antipersonnel landmines.
About the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC)
The CMC is an international coalition of around 350 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working in nearly 100 countries to encourage urgent action against cluster bombs. The CMC facilitates NGO efforts worldwide to educate governments, the public and the media about the problems of cluster munitions and to urge universalisation and full implementation of the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions.
The following 106 countries have signed the Convention
Afghanistan, Albania, Angola, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Cameroon, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Comoros, DR Congo, Republic of Congo, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Côte D’Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Fiji, France, Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Haiti, The Holy See, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Lao PDR, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia FYR, Madagascar , Malawi, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mexico, Republic of Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Rwanda, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tomé and Principe, St. Vincent and Grenadines, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Slovenia, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Zambia.
Of these, the following 37 countries have ratified the Convention
Albania (16 Jun 2009), Austria (2 Apr 2009), Belgium (22 Dec 2009), Burkina Faso (16 February 2010), Burundi (25 Sep 2009), Croatia (17 Aug 2009), Denmark (12 February 2010), Ecuador (11 May 2010), Fiji (28 May 2010) France (25 Sep 2009), Germany (8 Jul 2009), The Holy See (3 Dec 2008), Ireland (3 Dec 2008), Japan (14 Jul 2009), Lao PDR (18 Mar 2009), Lesotho (28 May 2010), Luxembourg (10 Jul 2009), Macedonia (8 Oct 2009), Malawi (7 Oct 2009), Mali (30 June 2010), Malta (24 Sep 2009), Mexico (6 May 2009), Moldova (16 February 2010), Montenegro (25 January 2010), New Zealand (22 Dec 2009), Nicaragua (6 Nov 2009), Niger (2 Jun 2009), Norway (3 Dec 2008), Samoa (28 April 2010), San Marino (10 Jul 2009), Seychelles (20 May 2010), Sierra Leone (3 Dec 2008), Slovenia (19 Aug 2009), Spain (17 Jun 2009), United Kingdom (4 May 2010), Uruguay (24 Sep 2009), Zambia (12 Aug 2009).