Christian World Service joins campaigners, governments, agencies and those affected by cluster bombs in welcoming the Convention on Cluster Munitions. It comes into legal force on 1 August 2010.
The international Convention bans production, use and transfer of cluster munitions that typically explode into dozens or even hundreds of submunitions or bomblets. Those that fail to explode act like landmines and remain an extreme hazard long after they are laid. The munitions that can be as small as a battery are fired by artillery or rocket systems or dropped by aircraft.
Cluster munitions have killed and injured civilians in 31 countries including Afghanistan, Iraq, Laos and Serbia. Worldwide stocks are estimated at about 8 million submunitions.
The Convention also calls for stockpiles to be destroyed within eight years and land to be cleared in ten years. Provision is also made for assisting survivors and affected communities. States ratifying the Convention are now required to implement its provisions.
The Convention was opened for signing in Oslo, Norway in December 2008. So far a total of 107 governments have signed the Convention, of which 38 (including New Zealand) have ratified it.
CWS acknowledges the role that the present and previous New Zealand governments took in addressing this critical disarmament issue. The previous New Zealand Government led by Hon Phil Goff hosted a crucial diplomatic meeting in February 2008 that brought government and nongovernmental representatives in Wellington with survivors and campaigners to further negotiations.
Hon Georgina te Heuheu, the Minister of Disarmament and Arms Control, introduced the necessary legislation to ratify the Convention into parliament on 21 July 2009. The Cluster Munitions Prohibition Act was passed unanimously on 10 December 2009 and New Zealand became the 25th state to ratify the Convention.
The new legal status of the Convention is being celebrated today with drumming and a film showing at Wellington’s Civic Square.
“This is a great achievement and an example of the way governments and campaigners can take significant action for the greater good. It is also an opportunity to ask the New Zealand Government to raise the Convention with those who have not signed like Niue, Tonga and the USA or ratified, including Australia, the Cook Islands and Palau,” says CWS Campaign Coordinator, Gillian Southey.
Christian World Service is a member of the Aotearoa New Zealand Cluster Munition Coalition and has actively participated in the campaign. More information can be found at: www.stopclusterbombs.org.nz
1 August 2010