Momentum Builds As Cluster Ban Signing Approaches

For Immediate Release

Cluster Munition Coalition
Contact: 

•In Kampala, Mary Wareham, Human Rights Watch, +256 (0) 702-177-267 (English)
• In Kampala, Amadou Maiga, CMC Mali, +256 (0) 77-918-5466 (French)
• In London, Natalie Curtis, CMC +44 (0)20 7820 0222 or + 44 (0) 7515 575174 (English)

Momentum Builds As Cluster Ban Signing Approaches

More than two dozen African governments announce their intent to sign the treaty on 3 December 2008

KAMBALA, Uganda - With two months remaining until the international
treaty banning cluster bombs is opened for signature in Norway, civil
society representatives are calling on all states to announce their
intent to sign. All of the 42 African states gathered in Kampala for a
regional conference today agreed to an action plan that calls for the
earliest possible signature and ratification and 28 made firm
commitments to sign on December 3 2008. Most if not all the 107 states
that adopted the treaty in Dublin last May are expected to sign in Oslo
and worldwide a total of 43 governments have already committed do so.

"I now realize that victims are not alone in their fight to ban
cluster munitions," said Ethiopian cluster munition survivor Ms.
Aynalem Zenebe. "We thank those African countries that have publicly
announced their support and hope they keep their promise to sign the
Convention this December." When she was seven years old Zenebe lost her
right leg below the knee on 5 June 1998 when a school near her home in
Mekele was hit by a cluster bomb strike. With the support of
humanitarian NGO Handicap International, Zenebe has spoken out for the
first time in Kampala.

The result of a diplomatic initiative known as the "Oslo Process,"
the Convention on Cluster Munitions was negotiated and adopted by more
than 100 states in May 2008. It will be opened for signature in Oslo,
Norway on 3 December 2008, the international day for persons with
disabilities.

A total of 42 African governments discussed the treaty at the
two-day Kampala Conference on Cluster Munitions, of which 28 announced,
most for the first time, their intent to sign the Convention on Cluster
Munitions: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African
Republic, Chad, Comoros, Republic of Congo, DR Congo, The Gambia,
Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi,
Mali, Mauritania, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles;
Uganda, Togo and Zambia. The Conference issued a "Kampala Action Plan"
expressing support for a series of strong actions relating to the
Convention on Cluster Munitions.

"We're disappointed that North African states did not take up the
invitation to participate in this Africa-wide event," said Ayman Sorour
of Protection, a CMC member. "It's still not too late to join this
important Convention which not only prohibits cluster munitions, but
contains strong humanitarian provisions requiring clearance of cluster
munition remnants and assistance to survivors of the weapon." Libya was
the only North African state to participate in the Kampala Conference,
but did not make a public statement indicating their support for the
cluster munition ban. Algeria, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia were absent.

The Kampala Conference is the second in a series of regional
meetings held to build support for the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
States from the Balkans and South Eastern Europe met in Sofia, Bulgaria
from 18-19 September. Further regional meetings are scheduled to be
held in Laos (20-22 October) and Ecuador (6-7 November). The Cluster
Munition Coalition, an international network of campaigners including
cluster bomb survivors, is planning a series of activities and events
to build support for the signing of the Convention on Cluster
Munitions. On 1 October 2008, a 10,000-kilometer "Ban Bus" tour through
Europe will be launched in Belgrade, Serbia to create awareness and
secure support for the cluster munition ban.

For more information, please contact: • In Kampala, Mary Wareham, Human Rights Watch, +256 (0) 702-177-267 (English) • In Kampala, Amadou Maiga, CMC Mali, +256 (0) 77-918-5466 (French) • In London, Natalie Curtis, CMC +44 (0)20 7820 0222 or + 44 (0) 7515 575174 (English)

See also: • Kampala Action Plan - www.clustermunitionskampala.ug • Ban Advocates Blog for personal testimony by Aynalem Zenebe - blog.banadvocates.org • Hi-Resolution Photos from the Kampala Conference - www.flickr.com/photos/anzclusters/sets/72157607490857108 • CMC Fact Sheet, "Cluster Munitions in Africa" (September 2008) - www.hrw.org/pub/2008/arms/CMC_factsheet0908.pdf • Ban Bus website - thebanbus.org • Cluster Munition Coalition website - www.stopclustermunitions.org/calendar/?id=628

 

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