Countries from across the globe were to adopt a landmark convention banning cluster bombs in a formal ceremony on Friday, in a move supporters hope will stigmatize the lethal weapons as much as landmines. Diplomats from 111 countries were to adopt the treaty in a closing ceremony at Croke Park in the Irish capital after 12 days of robust negotiations at the Gaelic games stadium.
A Cluster Bomb Explsion
The convention, agreed Wednesday, outlaws the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of cluster munitions. It also provides for victim welfare and clearing contaminated areas. Politicians and campaigners insisted it was a hugely significant pact despite the absence of key powers like the United States, China and Russia. Diplomats will adopt the treaty before Irish Foreign Minister Micheal Martin closes the conference.
Norway has spearheaded the treaty initiative and the convention is due to be signed in Oslo on December 2-3. States then have to ratify the pact. The United States, China, Russia, India, Pakistan and Israel did not participate in the convention talks, leading some commentators to question its worth. However, Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere insisted the treaty would stigmatize the use of cluster bombs among those countries keeping their stockpiles.
Cluster munitions are among the weapons posing the gravest dangers to civilians, especially in heavily bombed countries. Dropped from planes or fired from artillery, they explode in mid-air, randomly scattering bomblets, with many civilians having been killed or maimed by their indiscriminate, wide area effect. They also pose a lasting threat as many bomblets fail to explode on impact.
The treaty is due to be signed in Oslo on December 2-3. The cluster munitions treaty requires the destruction of stockpiled munitions within eight years -- though it leaves the door open for future, more precise generations of cluster bombs that pose less harm to civilians. The treaty was welcomed by the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC), an umbrella group of non-governmental organizations, which hopes it will stigmatize cluster munitions.