World works together to destroy millions of cluster submunitions
Geneva, 19 April 2012: A conference on the global ban on cluster bombs has concluded with news that 650,000 cluster munitions stockpiled by States Parties, containing 68.2million explosive submunitions, have been destroyed.
Laura Cheeseman, Director of the Cluster Munition Coalition CMC, said: “The progress made by States on stockpile destruction is a huge achievement and a ground-breaking success, even though this treaty is only two years old. Destroying stocks before they’re used is at the heart of the Convention, as in large part this treaty is about preventing future tragedies from cluster bombs.”
The second Intersessional Meeting of the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions, held in Geneva this week, also saw Bosnia and Herzegovina announce it has destroyed all of its stockpiled cluster bombs, becoming the ninth State Party to do so.
The following States Parties also revealed news of their stockpile destruction at the meeting: • Denmark will begin destruction of its. 2.5 millon submunitions this year, and complete it by next year, much earlier than originally expected; • Germany will complete destruction of its significant stock of cluster bombs by the end of 2015, and has already destroyed tens of millions of submunitions; • The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has found cluster munitions in its inventory that will be destroyed by the end of this year; • The UK has destroyed 71% - 27.7 million submunitions - of its stockpiled cluster bombs already, and aims to complete the work by 2013; • Italy announced it will complete destruction of its stockpile by the end of 2014.
During the meeting states also announced positive progress in other areas including ratification of the Convention, improvements in national legislation, clearance of contaminated land, and funding to support this vital work: • Guatemala has prepared legislation to prohibit the use, manufacturing, stockpiling, and transfer of cluster munitions including penal sanctions; • The Netherlands said a regulation applying from 1 January 2013 would prohibit direct investment in cluster munition production; • Australia, Germany and Spain all committed to continue donating millions to clearance of cluster bombs; • Australia, Canada, Chad, Hungary, Peru, Sweden and Switzerland announced that they will become States Parties to the Convention in the coming months; • Ghana, Croatia and Lebanon will host regional meetings to promote the Convention throughout the year.
But, while promising progress was announced, especially on stockpile destruction, some states have shown less willingness to implement national legislation to penalize violations of the treaty, submit information on their national situation, or agree on how to interpret certain vital areas of the ban. It was also still unclear how States Parties will put into place concrete plans to live up to their obligations to assist people and communities whose lives are blighted by cluster bombs. “Knowing that more than the 144 million indiscriminate submunitions stockpiled by states on board the ban treaty have already been destroyed is truly heartening. We want to see states mirroring these efforts in all other areas of the treaty’s aims too,” Cheeseman said.
Throughout the week’s meeting the CMC’s delegation of some 65 campaigners from all over the world provided global context to the announcements being made and held meetings with delegates to discuss the particular issues in their countries.
CMC campaigner and landmine survivor Tun Channereth, who is from South East Asia, the world’s most heavily cluster bomb contaminated region, said: “In a few short months we’ll meet these states again in Oslo, when we want to hear even more progress, and welcome even more new countries who have banned this terrible weapon to the meeting. I’d particularly like to see my own country – Cambodia – come to Oslo having banned cluster bombs. It was good to hear them say this week that they are still considering joining the ban, but we want to see them work harder to do so.”