U.S. Campaigners Celebrate Entry Into Force of Convention on Cluster Munitions; Call on U.S. to Join Treaty and Attend First Meeting of States Parties

For Immediate Release

US Campaign to Ban Landmines
Contact: 

Lea Radick, Communications Officer, USCBL, Phone: +1 (301) 891-3002, lradick@handicap‑international.us

Zach Hudson, Coordinator, USCBL, Phone: +1 (917) 860-1883,
zhudson@handicap‑international.us

U.S. Campaigners Celebrate Entry Into Force of Convention on Cluster Munitions; Call on U.S. to Join Treaty and Attend First Meeting of States Parties

WASHINGTON - The Convention on Cluster Munitions entered into force on August 1, 2010,
becoming binding international law. While celebrating the treaty at events
throughout the United States on Sunday, campaigners called upon the U.S. to
attend the convention's first meeting of States Parties in Vientiane, Lao PDR,
this November, and to join the treaty as soon as possible.

"I
was proud to see U.S. citizens joining other campaigners from all over the
world to celebrate this historic treaty," said Lynn Bradach, an ambassador for
the U.S. Campaign to Ban Cluster Bombs. "My son, a U.S. Marine, was killed by a
cluster bomb dud explosion during clearance operations in Iraq in 2003. These
are barbaric weapons that kill and maim countless innocent men, women and
children every day. I organized a drumming event on Sunday in my hometown of
Portland to raise awareness and to ask the U.S. to stop using these weapons,"
she said.

In
December 2008, when the treaty opened for signature in Oslo, a spokeswoman for
the Obama transition team said that the next president would "carefully
review" the new treaty banning cluster munitions and would "work
closely [with] our friends and allies to ensure that the United States is doing
everything feasible to promote protection of civilians." 

The
U.S. currently has the largest stockpile of cluster munitions in the world and
is a major user, exporter and producer of the weapon. While efforts to
restrain the use and trade of cluster munitions are under discussion in
Congress, there is no existing domestic law specifically regulating cluster
munitions.
In the most recent policy review released by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert
Gates in July 2008, cluster munitions were described as a "legitimate
weapons with clear military utility." Under the policy, the United States
will discontinue producing munitions with a tested failure rate of less than 1
percent by 2018.

The
U.S. Campaign to Ban Cluster Bombs calls on the U.S. to attend the First
Meeting of States Parties to the Convention, which will be held from November
9-12 in Lao PDR. Lao PDR is the world's most cluster-bombed country-from 1964
to 1973, the U.S. dropped more than 2 million tons of ordnance over Lao,
consisting of 270 million cluster bomblets, up to 80 million of which failed to
detonate and remain today as de facto landmines.

"It
is important that the U.S. attend this meeting and be a part of this process
now," said Zach Hudson, coordinator for the U.S. Campaign to Ban Cluster Bombs.
"This meeting will lay the foundation for how the Convention will be
implemented over the coming years.  The U.S. should demonstrate leadership on
this issue and work with other governments that are actively involved in
banning this weapon. The U.S. should also participate with an eye as to how we
can move toward accession to the treaty as soon as possible."

The
United States has used cluster munitions in Southeast Asia (Cambodia, Lao PDR
and Vietnam) in the 1960s and 1970s, the Persian Gulf (Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi
Arabia) in 1991, Yugoslavia (including Kosovo) in 1999, Afghanistan in 2001 and
2002 and Iraq in 2003.  On June 7, 2010, Amnesty International also released
images of a U.S.-manufactured Tomahawk cruise missile that carried cluster
submunitions, apparently taken following an attack on an alleged al-Qaida
training camp in the community of al-Ma'jalah in the Abyan area in the south of
Yemen. The December 17, 2009, attack reportedly killed 41 civilians, including
women and children. In response, the U.S. Campaign to Ban Cluster Bombs has
called on the U.S. to confirm or deny this reported use of the weapon.

The
Convention on Cluster Munitions was adopted in Dublin, Ireland, on May 30,
2008, and opened for signature in Oslo, Norway, in December 2008. 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 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 for cluster munition survivors and affected communities. On August
1, 2010, all of the Convention's provisions became fully and legally binding
for states that have joined.

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The USCBL, currently coordinated by Handicap International, is a coalition of thousands of people and U.S. non-governmental organizations working to: (1) ensure no U.S. use, production, or transfer of antipersonnel landmines and cluster munitions; (2) encourage the U.S. to join the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty and the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions; and (3) secure high levels of U.S. government support for clearance and assistance programs for victims of landmines, cluster munitions and other explosive remnants of war.

The USCBL is the U.S. affiliate of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL)-the co-laureate of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize-and is a member of the Cluster Munition Coalition, an international coalition working to protect civilians from the effects of cluster munitions by promoting universal adherence to and full implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

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