The Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) has been awarded the 2008 Tipperary International Peace award in recognition of its campaign to outlaw cluster bombs.
The award is to be accepted on behalf of the CMC by Serbian demining activist Branislav Kapetanovic, who was severely injured by a cluster bomb during the Balkans conflict in 2002. He will be presented with the accolade by Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin later today..
The CMC is a coalition of over 300 non-governmental organisations including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. Established in November 2003, the body played a significant role in working to achieve an international treaty prohibiting the use of cluster bombs during conflicts.
A cluster bomb or munition is a weapon containing dozens or hundreds of small explosive submunitions or bomblets. Dropped from the air or fired from the ground, they break open in mid-air releasing submunitions over a wide area. Their widespread dispersal can cause civilian casualties when used in populated areas and as many submunitions fail to explode as intended, they pose a threat to communities for years.
The Convention on Cluster Munitions was formally endorsed on 30th May 2008 in Dublin and was signed by 96 countries at a ceremony in Oslo in December.
The treaty prohibits the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of cluster bombs. Signatory nations have pledged to clear affected areas within 10 years, declare and destroy stockpiled cluster munitions within eight years, assist affected countries with clearance, and provide comprehensive assistance to victims of the munitions.
It will take effect after 30 nations have both signed and ratified it.
"We are grateful to the Tipperary Peace Convention for recognising the coalition with this award, but our success banning cluster bombs was the result of the strong partnership forged between likeminded governments and civil society and not the CMC's work alone," said CMC coordinator Thomas Nash.
"Ireland was a crucial partner in the movement to ban cluster bombs and we urge the government to continue its strong engagement to ensure that the new treaty takes effect as quickly as possible."
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Tipperary International Peace award. Previous recipients include former US president William Clinton, Live-Aid organiser and musician Bob Geldof, former South African president Nelson Mandela, and the late Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto, who was awarded the accolade posthumously in 2007.