Friday, May 30, 2008

Cluster bomb ban to be adopted

Israel dropped thousands of cluster munitions during a 2006 war in Lebanon [GALLO/GETTY]

Al Jazeera, May 30, 2008

Countries from around the world are set to ban the use of current designs of cluster bombs in a treaty human rights workers have described as a "monumental achievement".

Delegations from 111 countries are preparing to formally accept the deal at a ceremony in Dublin, the Irish capital, on Friday after almost two weeks of negotiations.


Cluster bombs

The convention, agreed on Wednesday, requires signatories to eliminate stockpiles of cluster munitions within eight years.

Marc Garlasco, a military analyst with Human Rights Watch, said the treaty was a "monumental achievement".

Garlasco told Al Jazeera that although the US and other nations have not committed to signing the agreement, he expects the treaty will stigmatise cluster munitions and so deter those nations from using them.

"We will now see a future in which not only will these weapons not be used, but [the treaty] also provides for victim assistance as well as clearance of weapons that have been used in the past," he said.

Ban opposed

The US, along with Israel, Pakistan, China and Russia, who are among the main producers and stockpilers of the weapons, have opposed the ban.

A third of recorded cluster munitions
casualties are children [EPA]

Cluster munitions release small "bomblets" in mid-air which spread over a large area, but many of the bombs do not detonate and remain dangerous, injuring and killing civilians after periods of conflict have ended.

A central problem in negotiations was how the armed forces of those nations signing any treaty would work alongside nations who have not signed up.

It was decided that the treaty will allow signatories and non-signatories to work together in military deployment.

Additionally, it allows the use of future cluster bombs which pick targets more precisely and contain self-destruct technology.

Norway spearheaded talks in February 2007 to end the use of the bomb.

The convention is due to be signed in Oslo on December 2-3. States will then have to ratify the pact.

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