Ban on deadly weapons ratified, enters into force in six months

17 Feb 2010

New York —Today the United Nations, Member States, and civil society organizations celebrate the 30th ratification of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. The convention, drafted in 2008, prohibits the manufacture, use and proliferation of cluster weapons, and also promotes the elimination of the billions still in storage. Thirty countries have now ratified the convention triggering its entry into force in six months time, as of 1 August 2010. This is a landmark achievement that will improve the lives and prospects of people affected by explosive remnants of war in countries around the world.

Jordan Ryan, Director of the Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), congratulated the Member States that have ratified the convention and thus facilitated its swift entry into force. “The ratifying countries have shown leadership and resolve, and stand as examples to be followed,” said Jordan Ryan. “The broad partnership and expeditious commitment evident in this process clearly signals the relevance of this instrument, and the urgent need to realize its provisions on the ground. UNDP is proud to have supported the convention’s entry into force.”

Cluster munitions are canister weapons that open in mid-air, scattering numerous small explosive devices (known as sub-munitions, or bomblets) over a wide area. They may be delivered by aircraft, rockets, or artillery projectiles, and have a wide dispersal pattern that results in a very large area of impact. They remain on the ground for decades after a conflict, breeding fear, maiming innocents, and obstructing the full human, social and economic development of affected communities.

A 2007 report from Handicap International estimated that 98 percent of all casualties of failed cluster munitions are civilians. Cluster munitions often cause more civilian casualties than any other weapon, as in Iraq in 2003 and Kosovo in 1999. In Lebanon cluster munitions caused more than 200 civilian casualties in the year following the ceasefire with Israel in August 2006. In Laos, around 78 million unexploded sub-munitions remain in or on the ground. With current clearance rates, all agricultural land in Laos may be cleared in 16 years.

Cluster munitions, landmines and other explosive remnants of war hamper the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals in affected countries and communities who are already battling the burden of poverty and marginalization. “To build a more prosperous world we must be committed to building a safer world and to protecting the rights of every man, woman and child to life, livelihood, and development,” said Jordan Ryan.

The Convention on Cluster Munitions provides the legal framework for clearance of deployed cluster munitions and helps raise awareness among affected populations of the dangers of cluster munitions. It stresses the commitment of states to this agenda and delineates their duties.

Contact Information

Stanislav Saling: stanislav.saling@undp.org; Tel: + 1 212 906 5296

UNDP’s web site on cluster munitions: http://www.undp.org/cpr/we_do/cluster_munitions.shtml