Record-breaking Progress as States Race to Eliminate the Scourge of Cluster Bombs

Syria’s use of the banned weapon strongly condemned

(Geneva) September 4, 2013: Governments are making record-breaking progress as they race to fulfill the 2008 treaty banning cluster munitions, while Syria’s use of this banned weapon has been widely condemned, according to Cluster Munition Monitor 2013, a global report released today in Geneva.

“The impressive rate at which states are destroying millions of stockpiled cluster munitions shows that the Convention on Cluster Munitions is already making a real difference in saving lives,” said Mary Wareham of Human Rights Watch, ban policy editor of Cluster Munition Monitor 2013. “By completing their stockpile destruction years in advance of deadline, states are boldly demonstrating their commitment to the treaty’s objective of ridding the world of these weapons.”

During 2012, the Netherlands finished the total destruction of its once-massive stockpile of cluster munitions and together with Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, and others, destroyed a total of 173,973 cluster munitions and 27 million submunitions—the most in a year since the convention’s adoption and far exceeding 2011 totals, when states destroyed a total of 107,000 cluster munitions and 17.6 million submunitions.

Under the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions, States Parties have a maximum period of eight years to destroy their stockpiled cluster munitions, but most are completing their destruction in half that time. Denmark and the United Kingdom, for example, announced plans to finish destruction by the end of this year, and Cote d’Ivoire finished destruction in early 2013. Read the rest of this entry »

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Landmines, cluster munitions and other unexploded ordnance add threat to refugees

(20 June 2013) On World Refugee Day today the Nobel Prize winning International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) and the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) is calling on states to eliminate the harrowing risks that refugees and asylum seekers face from landmines and unexploded ordnance. States must protect refugee victims and urgently respond to their needs. 

Landmines and Refugees: The Risks and the Responsibilities to Protect and Assist Victims” released today by the ICBL-CMC’S Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor, focuses on the conditions for victims and refugees fleeing from, or into, 20 different countries contaminated by landmines and other explosive hazards, including cluster munitions; and the experiences of returnees to another five affected countries.

Firoz Alizada, ICBL Campaign Manager knows first-hand the devastating effect of mines on displaced individuals. “Those refugees or IDPs that survive are among the most vulnerable, like other persons with disabilities. They are the first to be affected physically, socially and economically and the last to get assistance,” said Alizada. “I am a double-amputee landmine survivor and I didn’t receive any assistance from anyone but my family during the five years I lived in Pakistan,” said Alizada, a native of Afghanistan. 

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Countries need to stop bombing civilians

The International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW) calls on States and international organisations to use the opportunity provided by the UN Security Council debate on the Protection of Civilians to:

• Acknowledge that use of explosive weapons in populated areas tends to cause severe harm to individuals and communities and furthers suffering by damaging vital infrastructure;

•  Support the call of the UN Secretary-General for further work by States, UN agencies, international organisations and NGOs to better understand the impact of explosive weapons in populated areas and to develop mechanisms for improving civilian protection.

The last UN SG’s report on protection of civilians in armed conflict, 11 Nov 2010, highlighted the humanitarian impact of explosive weapons when used in populated areas (paras 48-51). It urged Member States to respond by providing information on both the pattern of harm and the policies in place to limit that impact. Since then, external events have provided further evidence of the need for action on this issue:

•  In March 2011, in Libya the sustained shelling and bombardment of areas populated by civilians was identified by the UN Humanitarian Chief as causing “widespread suffering”;1

• In the same month, the shelling of a market in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire highlighted the “dreadful humanitarian impact of explosive weapons when used in populated areas”;2

• In the period since the last UN Protection of Civilians report, civilians have continued to be killed and injured as a result of the use of explosive weapons in populated areas of Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel, Gaza, Pakistan, Somalia and elsewhere. Based on media monitoring by the NGO AOAV during the five months following the report, a minimum of 8,168 people have been reported killed and injured from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas,

with approximately 90% of these being civilians.3

Background: Explosive weapons include artillery shells, multiple launch rocket systems, air-dropped bombs, grenades and improvised explosives devices (IEDs), amongst others. The blast and fragmentation from these weapons kills and injures men, women and children in an area around the explosion, and can destroy vital infrastructure. When used within a concentration of civilians this often causes high levels of long-term harm to people who should be protected.4

The International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW) calls for immediate action to prevent human suffering from explosive weapons in populated areas. Founding members include Action on Armed Violence, Handicap International, Human Rights Watch, IKV Pax Christi, Medact, Norwegian People’s Aid, Oxfam and Save the Children UK.

1 UN OCHA: http://ochanet.unocha.org/p/Documents/USG%20Amos%20Statement%20Libya%2017March2011.pdf 2 UN OCHA: http://ochanet.unocha.org/p/Documents/USG%20Amos%20Statement%20CDI%2018March2011.pdf 3 AOAV methodology, background and previous data: http://www.landmineaction.org/issues/page.asp?PLID=1017&pageID=1068 4 For background, see NGO reports online at: http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/assets/images/Devastating_Impact_low_res_(3).pdf http://www.landmineaction.org/resources/Explosive%20violence.pdf http://www.ikvpaxchristi.nl/files/Documenten/Veiligheid%20en%20Ontwapening/Explosive%20weapons%20policy%20brief%201%20low %20res.pdf

CMC condemns Thai use of cluster munitions in Cambodia

Thailand and Cambodia should join global treaty banning cluster munitions

(Geneva) April 6, 2011 — Based on two separate on-site investigations, the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) has concluded that Thailand used cluster munitions on Cambodian territory during the February 2011 border conflict. Thai officials confirmed the use of cluster munitions in a meeting with the CMC on April 5, 2011.

This is the first use of cluster munitions anywhere in the world since the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions entered into force and became binding international law. The CMC condemns any use of cluster munitions, and urges Thailand and Cambodia to immediately commit to no future use and to accede to the global treaty banning the weapons.

“It’s appalling that any country would resort to using cluster munitions after the international community banned them,” said Laura Cheeseman, director of the CMC. “Thailand has been a leader in the global ban on antipersonnel mines, and it is unconscionable that it used banned weapons that indiscriminately kill and injure civilians in a similar manner.”

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Senator: “no excuse for continuing to use cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm to civilians”

Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy on The Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act

As printed in the Congressional Record on March 15, 2011

March 15, 2011

MR. LEAHY.  Mr. President, on March 10th, my friend from California, Senator Feinstein, and I introduced S. 558, the Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act of 2011.  It is identical to the bill that she and I introduced last year, and similar to those in prior years.

Cluster munitions, like any weapon, have some military utility.  But anyone who has seen the indiscriminate devastation cluster munitions cause over a wide area understands the unacceptable threat they pose to civilians.  These are not the laser guided weapons the Pentagon showed destroying their targets during the invasion of Baghdad.

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European Parliament urges EU states to join cluster bomb ban treaty

(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.”

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Cluster munitions bring harvest of death

Jesuit Refugee Service/USA supports the effort to ban cluster munitions.

Titus Peachey, director of peace education for the Mennonite Central Committee in Akron, Pa., and a former coordinator of the committee’s Cluster Bomb Removal Project in Laos, has written an op-ed in The Philadelphia Inquirer urging the United States to join any dozens of other countries around the world which have banned cluster munitions.

Cluster munitions are small bombs, or “bomblets,” that are dropped from a large shell or bomb casing. Since many of these bomblets did not blow up as designed, they turned large areas of Laos into a vast, unmapped mine field. Even today, some 35 years after the bombing ended, an average of 300 Lao villagers are injured or killed by these weapons each year.

Over the past 45 years, the use of these indiscriminate weapons has extended to more than 25 countries. While millions of dollars are spent each year to find and safely destroy them, their repeated use has created an economic and humanitarian disaster.

In response, many government leaders have decided to pick up pens. In December 2008, 94 countries gathered in Norway to sign a treaty – the Convention on Cluster Munitions – banning the production, transfer, stockpiling, and use of cluster munitions. The treaty’s signatories include many U.S. allies that have cluster munitions. Regrettably, though, the United States has joined Russia, China, Israel, Pakistan, and India in refusing to sign it.

The effort to ban cluster munitions parallels a similar effort to ban land mines, which led to a treaty in 1997. While 156 nations have now signed on to the Mine Ban Treaty, the United States continues to resist, joining other major military powers in refusing to agree to ban land mines.

Read the full piece here.