UN hails landmark ban on cluster arms

UN chief Ban Ki-moon praised a landmark treaty banning cluster munitions, which comes into force this weekend, as a major advance in efforts to rid the world of the “abhorrent weapons”.

“I am delighted that the Convention on Cluster Munitions enters into force on 1 August 2010,” Dr Ban said.

“This new instrument is a major advance for the global disarmament and humanitarian agendas, and will help us to counter the widespread insecurity and suffering caused by these terrible weapons, particularly among civilians and children,” the UN Secretary General said.

The Convention on Cluster Munitions, which has so far been signed by 107 states, will enter into force on Sunday, about six months after more than 30 countries ratified the treaty, which was concluded in 2008.

The treaty prohibits the countries that have ratified it from using, producing and stockpiling the weapons.

The agreement “highlights not only the world’s collective revulsion at these abhorrent weapons, but also the power of collaboration among governments, civil society and the United Nations to change attitudes and policies on a threat faced by all humankind,” Dr Ban said.

“Such cooperation will be crucial as we seek now to implement the convention, including through assistance to victims.”

Cluster bombs or shells open before impact and scatter multiple, often hundreds, small “bomblets” over a wide area. Many fail to explode immediately and can lie dormant for several years, killing or maiming hundreds of civilians, often long after conflicts have ended in regions such as Southeast Asia, the Balkans, and southern Lebanon.

Often the casualties are children who have found and picked up the munitions.

The signatories include producer nations with military stockpiles of more than 100 million of the bomblets such as Britain, Germany, and France.

Major military powers including China, Russia, the United States and Israel, which are thought to account for the huge bulk of the estimated one billion bomblet global stockpile, have so far have rejected the treaty.

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