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Cluster Bomb Ban Reaches Ratification Milestone

Convention to Become Binding International Law on August 1

NEW YORK - Burkina Faso and Moldova ratified the convention banning cluster
munitions on February 16, 2010, the final two ratifications needed for
it to become binding international law. The convention will now enter
into force on August 1, 2010.

The Convention on Cluster Munitions was opened for signature in
December 2008, and it has taken only 15 months to attain the 30
ratifications necessary for it to become binding international law.

"The short time it took to reach this milestone shows that
governments have a strong desire never to see these terrible weapons
used again," said Steve Goose, arms division director at Human Rights
Watch and co-chair of the international Cluster Munition Coalition.
"But every signatory needs to ratify, and those who haven't signed need
to come on board to keep more civilian lives and limbs from being
needlessly lost."
The 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions comprehensively
prohibits the use, production, and transfer of cluster munitions,
provides strict deadlines for clearing affected areas and destroying
stockpiled cluster munitions, and requires assistance to victims of the

Burkina Faso and Moldova deposited their instruments of
ratification with the United Nations in New York today, respectively
becoming the 29th and 30th signatories to ratify, and triggering the
August 1 date for entry into force.

The 30 states to ratify the Convention on Cluster Munitions include
leaders of the "Oslo Process" diplomatic initiative, which created the
Convention (Norway, Austria, Holy See, Ireland, Mexico, and New
Zealand), countries where cluster munitions have been used (Albania,
Croatia, Lao PDR, Sierra Leone, and Zambia), stockpilers of cluster
munitions (Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, Moldova,
Montenegro, and Slovenia), as well as Spain, the first signatory
country to complete destruction of its stockpile. Other ratifying
states are: Burkina Faso, Burundi, Luxembourg, Macedonia FYR, Malawi,
Malta, Nicaragua, Niger, San Marino, and Uruguay.

"In light of this new international law, it is especially
important for former users of the weapon - such as the United States,
Russia, and Israel - to re-examine their positions, which put
questionable claims of military necessity above the well-documented
humanitarian damage cluster munitions cause," Goose said. "Over half of
the world's states have agreed to give up cluster munitions. This is no
longer an acceptable weapon."
A total of 104 states have signed the convention, including most
NATO members and other close US allies. The Bush administration chose
not to participate in developing or negotiating the convention, which
was modeled on the 1997 treaty banning antipersonnel landmines. The
Obama administration has not yet made its views on the convention
known, but President Obama signed a law on March 11, 2009, banning the
export of all but a very tiny fraction of the cluster munitions in the
US arsenal.
Cluster munitions have been banned because of their widespread
indiscriminate effect at the time of use and the long-lasting danger
they pose to civilians. Cluster munitions can be fired by artillery and
rocket systems or dropped by aircraft, and typically explode in the air
and send dozens, even hundreds, of tiny bomblets over an area the size
of a football field. Cluster submunitions often fail to explode on
initial impact, leaving duds that act like landmines.


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