Convention on cluster munitions becomes international law

Cluster Munition Flyer_Page_1 The Convention on Cluster Munitions went into effect on Sunday, 1 August 2010. Due to the number of countries that have signed and ratified the Convention, it becomes binding international law in countries around the world. This is a cause for celebration and concern. Concern because of the countries, including the United States, that have not signed or ratified.

Celebration because the treaty is a significant step toward disarmament and offers a way to protect civilians from the effects of these deadly, indiscriminate weapons. The United Nations News Centre report on the treaty's entry into effect notes that:

Some 98 per cent of victims are civilians and cluster bombs have claimed over 10,000 civilian lives, 40 per cent of whom are children.

The Cluster Munitions Coalition played an important role in advocating for the treaty and calling the nations of the world to sign and ratify the treaty. Excerpts from their article about the Convention's entry into effect include an observation about what the treaty does:

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 and calls for the destruction of stockpiles within eight years, clearance of cluster munition-contaminated land within 10 years, and assistance to cluster munition survivors and affected communities. On 1 August, all of the Convention’s provisions become fully and legally binding for states that have joined.

Information about who has signed the treaty:

To date, 108 countries have signed the Convention and 38 have ratified. Among them are former users and producers of cluster munitions, as well as countries affected by the weapons. The international stigma against cluster munitions is already taking root and 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.

Ways the treaty is being implemented:

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 the weapons. In December 2009, Albania completed clearance of cluster submunition contamination on its territory, the first signatory country to do so.

The Cluster Munition Coalition offers a number of suggestions for ways to take action in support of the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has guidelines for military-related investment, adopted in 1982 and most recently revised in 1998, that include particular concern over weapons that do not distinguish between combatants and non-combatants.

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