Cluster munitions: Convention a major step forward for the protection of civilians

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Geneva - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) welcomes the agreement on a historic treaty prohibiting cluster munitions that have caused decades of suffering for civilians.

The Convention, agreed by 110 States at a diplomatic conference in Dublin, prohibits the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of these weapons. It commits States to the clearance of areas contaminated with unexploded cluster munitions and to the provision of assistance for victims and their communities.

"The ICRC has regularly witnessed the terrible impact of cluster munitions on civilians," stated Jakob Kellenberger, president of the ICRC. 'The Convention adopted in Dublin means that these weapons are not only morally unacceptable but also now illegal under international humanitarian law. When implemented, it will prevent tremendous civilian suffering.'

The ICRC urges all States to adhere to the Cluster Munitions Convention in the near future and calls on them to end the use of cluster munitions prohibited by the Convention, regardless of whether they have participated in the Dublin negotiations.

The ICRC first called for a Cluster Munition treaty and an end to their use in 2000 following the conflict in Kosovo, where it documented widespread civilian casualties. In more than 20 countries, unexploded cluster submunitions have rendered large areas as dangerous as minefields. Their deadly legacy can continue for generations.

The Cluster Munitions Convention will be opened for signature in Oslo in early December 2008 and will enter into force when 30 States have deposited their instruments of ratification with the UN Secretary General.

For further information, please contact:

Angela Hoyt, ICRC in Dublin, +44 79 214 04092

Claudia McGoldrick, ICRC Geneva, tel. +41 22 730 2063 or +41 79 217 3216