Cluster bomb ban treaty takes effect worldwide
The worldwide ban on cluster bombs that comes into force on 1 August, marks the most groundbreaking disarmament and humanitarian treaty in over a decade, Amnesty International said On Sunday.The Convention on Cluster Munition, which bans cluster bombs and compels states to assist victims while clearing their land of munition, will become binding international law in countries that have signed and ratified the treaty, including Spain, Japan, Niger, Mexico and the United Kingdom."This treaty is a crucial step towards protecting civilians, during and after armed conflict, from this cruel and indiscriminate weapon," said Sauro Scarpellli, Amnesty International weapons campaigner."As with the treaty banning anti-personnel landmines in 1997, this convention is a landmark victory for civil society campaigners across the globe and shows that governments are willing to end civilian suffering caused by cluster bombs."Amnesty International and hundreds of NGOs and survivors of indiscriminate cluster bomb explosions have been campaigning for a total ban on cluster munition. Adopted in Dublin on 30 May 2008 and opened for signature in Oslo in December 2008, the Convention bans the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster munitions. It also calls for stockpiles to be destroyed within eight years; for cluster munition-contaminated land to be cleared within 10 years; and for assistance to cluster munition survivors and affected communities.To date, 107 countries have signed the Convention and 37 have ratified. Among them are former users and producers of cluster munitions, as well as countries affected by the weapons. The last confirmed use of cluster munitions in a major armed conflict met with international condemnation when both Russia and Georgia used them in the conflict over South Ossetia in August 2008. In recent weeks, Moldova and Norway destroyed the last of their cluster munition stockpiles, joining Spain, which eradicated its stockpile last year. Nearly a dozen other states have begun destruction, including the United Kingdom, a major former user and producer of cluster munitions. Amnesty International has called on all governments that have not already signed the treaty, to do so immediately and commit to protecting civilians from the deadly effects of armed conflict.