04 December 2008

Cluster Bomb Convention signed in Oslo

An important landmark convention that bans the use of cluster bombs has been signed during a special ceremony in Oslo.

The Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern travelled to the Norwegian capital and signed the convention on behalf of Ireland.

Ireland is one of the - so far - 108 countries who support the international convention, which aims to prohibit the use of weapon systems that disperse large numbers of sub-munitions.

Dropped from aircraft or fired from artillery guns, cluster bombs explode in mid-air to randomly scatter hundreds of so-called 'bomblets', which are miniature mines and can be as small as 8 cm in size.

A certain percentage of the bombs do not explode on impact and remain a threat to soldiers and civilians alike, often long after a conflict has ended.
The small 'bomblets' are an even more serious menace, as they can remain undetected on or in the ground for a long time.

Thousands of civilians who live in former war zones have been killed or seriously wounded by them. Many of those injured are children, as cluster bombs are often mistaken for toys.

The campaign group Handicap International estimates that some 100,000 people have been killed or injured by cluster bombs since 1965.
A number of victims and relatives of the victims of cluster bombs travelled to Oslo as well, to support the treaty and to call for more countries to sign.

However, three of the world's largest producers and stockpilers of cluster munitions - the USA, Russia and China - still refuse to sign the convention.
So is Israel, which dropped more than a million bomblets on Lebanese cities in July and August 2006, an act of unprovoked and criminal aggression that has been condemned by the UN and many countries around the world, but keeps killing and wounding Lebanese civilians almost on a daily basis.

The convention to ban cluster munitions was debated and eventually agreed on during a twelve-day-long conference in May of this year in Dublin. (see my entry of May 19th)
It was the largest international event of its kind ever hosted by Ireland, and the deliberations received much media attention in Ireland and many other countries.

The convention to ban cluster munitions is a large step forward towards world peace, and one hopes that under the up-coming presidency of Barack Obama the USA will join the rest of the civilised world and sign the document as well.

The Emerald Islander

1 comment:

Jason Liew said...

although it is a good development, this would only prompt the superpowers to create new types of weapons. it's an endless cycle of warfare preparation.

even the bombs they use in the gulf war and Iraq are claimed to be expired or near-expiry, war is a definitely a good opportunity to dispose of the old stocks and test new weapons.

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