The Oslo Convention on Cluster Munitions entered into force on August 1, 2010.
The Convention bans the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of these devastating weapons. It also includes innovative articles on victim assistance (98% of recorded victims are civilians).
Two years on, 75 States are party to this convention and 111 have signed it. States parties have destroyed more than half of their stockpiles of cluster munitions and Albania and Zambia have completed the demining of their territory. “It took us five years to ban anti-personnel mines,” says Elizabeth MacNairn, Executive Director of Handicap International-US. “We also needed five years to get countries to sign the Convention of Cluster Munitions. These are the only two conventional weapons banned following pressure from civil society and organizations like Handicap International. Today, more than half of countries around the world have signed the convention on cluster munitions, proving that the elimination of these inhuman weapons is possible!”
Handicap International is calling on communities and States parties to intensify their efforts to ensure major countries – including the United States, China, Russia and Israel – join the convention as soon as possible. Handicap International-US, coordinator of the U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines, joined campaigners in a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to urge the U.S. participate to as an observer at the upcoming 3rd Meeting of States Parties to the Convention, which will take place in Oslo, Norway, September 11-14.
Forty-four countries and territories are still contaminated by these weapons and millions of civilians are unable to get their lives back to normal because of the presence – real or suspected – of these weapons in their fields, on roads and near waterways. Another cloud on the horizon is the fact that at least two countries used cluster munitions in 2012, Thailand and Libya, leading to a series of new accidents. “In the region of Misratah in Libya, 80% of victims are aged under 23,” MacNairn says. “It's unbearable to see innocent people continue to suffer the effects of war in peacetime.”
The September Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions will give Handicap International an opportunity to check that all countries represented are complying with their obligations under the convention and are making a real financial contribution to actions against mines and explosive remnants of war.