The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Danny Muller at 917-217-6809
or Simon Conway at 202-509-4306

US Campaign to Ban Cluster Bombs at the DNC


Representatives of the US Campaign to Ban Landmines and Cluster Bombs are in Denver at the Democratic National Convention speaking to delegates and elected officials about the global treaty to ban cluster bombs that will be opened for signature in Oslo, Norway on December 3, 2008. This will be the first major international treaty to come up following the US elections.

Former British military officer and de-miner Simon Conway is working with the US Campaign and is available at the DNC for interviews. Conway is one of the principal campaigners who helped persuade more than 100 governments in May 2008 to renounce further use of cluster munitions.

About Cluster Munitions
These weapons open in mid-air and disperse small canisters, or bomblets, over an area the size of several football fields. Most of these bomblets explode upon contact with the ground, spewing deadly shrapnel and and posing a grave danger to exposed civilians or livestock. Some percentage of the bomblets (5-30 percent for most systems used by the US military) fail to explode on impact. These residual bomblets threaten returning civilians for months, years or even decades as in the case of Laos, and they impede farming and other economic activity. As these bomblets are curious looking and small, they pose a particular risk to children.

The United States is, historically, the biggest producer and user of cluster munitions. Most recently, the US military used them in Kosovo (1999), Afghanistan (2001-2), and Iraq (2003), in all cases resulting in widespread civilian casualties. In Operation Desert Storm (1991), unexploded cluster submunitions from US bombs and rockets killed and wounded 80 US soldiers, making them the single most deadly weapon facing US troops.

About the Cluster Munition Convention
On May 30, 2008 107 governments formally adopted the text of a treaty-the Convention on Cluster Munitions-that bans production, use and export of cluster weapons. The treaty requires that parties to it destroy their stockpiles of cluster munitions within 8 years. Among the states that adopted it are America's closest military and political allies, including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, New Zealand, and the UK.

More than 130 states worked on this treaty during 2007 and 2008. The United States did not participate.
The treaty will be opened for signature at a diplomatic conference in Oslo, Norway on 3 December-less than one month after the U.S. elections.

About Simon Conway
Simon Conway is a novelist and an advisor to the Cluster Munition Coalition, the civil society grouping that pressed for the negotiation of new international law to ban the use of cluster bombs. Prior to that he directed Landmine Action, a UK based demining and anti-mine advocacy organization. Previously, he was a deminer with HALO Trust, one of the largest demining organizations in the world, and an officer in the British Army.

The United States Campaign to Ban Landmines is a coalition of non-governmental organizations working to ensure that the U.S. comprehensively prohibits antipersonnel mines--by banning their use in Korea--and joins the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, as more than 160 nations have done. It is the national affiliate of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), founded in New York in 1992 and recipient of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate together with former ICBL coordinator Ms. Jody Williams of Vermont. We also call for sustained U.S. government financial support for mine clearance and victim assistance.