Anti-cluster bomb norm shows strength at UN talks
New report documents progress as nations embrace ban and reject alternatives
The strength of the global norm rejecting cluster munitions has been clear during negotiations this week in Geneva on a deal to allow use of the banned weapon.
The new ‘2011 Cluster Munition Monitor’ launched by the Cluster Munition Coalition at the United Nations on Wednesday documents the progress that has been made towards eradicating cluster bombs, which were banned in 2008 in a deal now endorsed by 111 states.
The UK, which used cluster munitions in Serbia and Kosovo in 1999 and in Iraq in 2003 and possessed 39 million cluster submunitions before the ban, has already destroyed half of its entire stockpile. Eleven other states have destroyed their entire stockpiles already. Another major former producer and stockpile, Germany, has already destroyed half of its stockpile of 67 million submunitions.
The report comes at a time when the US is leading an effort to negotiate a new protocol to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons that would give it legal and political cover to continue using cluster munitions.
States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, however, have stood firm in their opposition to this move. Costa Rica delivered a statement with which 29 states have associated themselves to indicate that there is no consensus around the current draft protocol and to highlight concern about the direction of negotiations.
The UK had indicated support for negotiations on the draft protocol during previous sessions this year, but after action by peers and MPs led to high-level political intervention last week, Ministers made strong statements to distance the UK from the US-backed deal on the table. Our analysis of these statements suggests it will be very difficult for the UK to support any draft protocol based on the current text.
Today the European Parliament provided a further boost to the Convention on Cluster Munitions by passing a resolution rejecting the current draft protocol. The resolution states that: “Protocol VI to the CCW is not compatible with the CCM and that the Member States which have signed the CCM have a legal obligation to strongly oppose and reject its introduction.”
Thomas Nash, Director of Article 36 said:
“The global ban on cluster bombs is stronger than ever. We know from Wikileaks that the US government tried to prevent this treaty and stop US allies from signing. But they failed and most of the world’s nations, including most US allies, have joined the ban. Now the US is trying to put a UN stamp on their desire to carry on using weapons that most of the world has banned and they are failing again.”
Cluster Munition Monitor 2011 details progress made in implementing the Convention on Cluster Munitions, the legally-binding treaty which 111 states have now joined, agreeing to ban this deadly, indiscriminate weapon. Of states that have used produced, exported, or stockpiled cluster munitions, 38 have now joined the Convention on Cluster Munitions, thereby committing to never engage in those activities again.
- Eleven States Parties have completed destruction of their cluster munition stockpiles (Afghanistan, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Moldova, Montenegro, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, and Spain), and the other 13 States Parties with stockpiles have committed to destroy them by the convention’s eight-year deadline.
- Collectively, States Parties have destroyed nearly 600,000 cluster munitions containing more than 64.5 million submunitions.
- Two of the world’s biggest stockpilers—Germany (67 million submunitions) and the United Kingdom (39 million submunitions)—have already destroyed half of their respective stocks.
- Five countries that have signed but not yet ratified the treaty have already completed destruction of their stockpiles (Angola, Colombia, Honduras, Hungary, and Iraq).
- Since the treaty entered into force on 1 August 2010, an additional 28 countries have become States Parties, including Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Lebanon, which are all contaminated by cluster munition remnants. Of the 28 countries, 25 were signatories that ratified the convention and three countries —Grenada, Swaziland, and Trinidad and Tobago— acceded, a one-step process equivalent to signature and ratification to the treaty.
- Fifteen countries have enacted national legislation to implement the convention, including the Cook Islands, Czech Republic, Ecuador, and Italy in 2011.
- Sixteen of the 28 countries still contaminated by cluster munitions have signed or ratified the treaty and significant clearance measures were reported in most of the affected States Parties. In 2010, at least 59,978 unexploded submunitions were destroyed during clearance operations around the world and more than 18.5km2 of cluster munition contaminated land was cleared.
- Cluster Munition Monitor estimates that there have been at least 16,921 casualties of cluster munitions. All survivors require sustained support to recover from their injuries and contribute to their families, communities, and society as a whole.
In 2011, two states not party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions used cluster munitions: Libya (in Misrata in April) and Thailand (in Cambodia in February). Cluster munitions have been used by at least 19 governments in armed conflict in 36 countries and four disputed territories since the end of World War II.
Cluster Munition Monitor 2011 and related documents are available at www.the-monitor.org/cmm/2011