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NZ Calls For Action Against Cluster Bombs

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Disarmament and Arms Control

06 September 2006

New Zealand Calls For Action Against Cluster Bombs

New Zealand has spoken out for legally binding controls on the use of cluster munitions at a UN meeting in Geneva this week, says Disarmament and Arms Control Minister, Phil Goff.

"The disastrous consequences of the use of cluster bombs in Lebanon in the recent conflict there demands a stronger stand by the international community to restrict and regulate the use of cluster munitions.

"I instructed our Ambassador in Geneva, Don MacKay, to state clearly New Zealand's stand on this issue at the UN Inhumane Weapons Convention meeting in Geneva yesterday.

"The latest information I have received from the UN Mine Action Service is the overall failure rate of cluster bombs in Lebanon could be as high as 50%.

"UN mine clearance experts have so far found 100,000 unexploded bomblets. These are often of a size, shape and colour that encourage children to pick them up, with lethal consequences.

"There have already been 68 confirmed casualties from cluster munitions since the ceasefire, with 12 of these proving fatal.

"The situation has been described by the Mine Action Service as 'without a doubt the worst post-conflict cluster bomb contamination' they have dealt with.

"The negative impact of cluster munitions contamination on humanitarian operations and economic recovery in post-conflict situation is already well established, with corroborating evidence from recent events reinforcing the necessity for action.

"Any instrument that is negotiated needs to address the use of such weapons within areas of concentrated civilian populations and in circumstances likely to cause disproportionate loss of civilian life. We will also be seeking to prevent the proliferation, retention and use of obsolete munitions which fail to detonate on impact.

"Promoting the campaign for the creation of a legally binding agreement strengthens New Zealand's position on cluster munitions and adds our voice to a growing international movement demanding action on these weapons.


"New Zealand will be standing alongside like minded countries on this issue such as Norway, Sweden, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark, Ireland, Mexico and Jordan which have also spoken out on this situation.

"The humanitarian crisis in Lebanon should serve to heighten awareness of this issue and I hope, persuade a majority of countries to join New Zealand and others to act on this issue", said Mr Goff.

ENDS

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