Ground-breaking Treaty at cluster munitions conf.
Hon Phil Goff
Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control
30 May 2008
Ground-breaking Treaty at conclusion of Dublin Conference on Cluster Munitions
Agreement on a ground-breaking new treaty banning cluster munitions in Dublin yesterday has been warmly welcomed by Disarmament Minister Phil Goff.
“This new Convention will save lives and help prevent the unacceptable civilian casualties caused by cluster munitions, which can often occur long after a conflict has ended,” Mr Goff said from Peru.
“New Zealand has been at the forefront of the drive towards this Treaty as one of the founders of the Oslo Process. Earlier this year we hosted the Wellington Conference on Cluster Munitions, which laid the foundation for the Dublin Agreement,” Mr Goff said.
“In the space of just over a year, the Oslo Process has succeeded in breaking the stalemate which has stopped progress over many years in Geneva.
“At Dublin, our Disarmament Ambassador Don MacKay played a crucial role in securing agreement on the definition of cluster munitions to be banned. The end result, while inevitably involving some compromise, has exceeded expectations. The Treaty will ban 95 per cent of all cluster munitions that cause such devastating harm to civilians. It is expected to be endorsed by countries before the conference ends tonight.
“The Treaty takes a significant step forward in international law by including a specific article on victim assistance. Strong and clear provisions are also included on destruction of stockpiles, clearance of cluster munition remnants, and international co-operation and assistance.
“The negotiations held over the past two weeks, and more than a year of hard work leading up to the conclusion of the treaty, are testament to the determination of participating states to alleviate the deaths and suffering caused by these weapons.
“I commend all the participants including officials and NGOs, such as the Cluster Munition Coalition, for their hard work and commitment to this humanitarian cause. Now attention needs to turn to bringing this Convention into force as quickly as possible,” Phil Goff said.
A signing ceremony for the Convention will be held in Oslo, Norway, later this year. Oslo was also the host for the start of the process leading to the adoption of the Convention, at a meeting held in February 2007. New Zealand is a member of the “Core Group” steering the “Oslo Process”, comprising Norway, Mexico, Peru, Austria, Ireland and the Holy See.
Cluster munitions were used extensively in the conflict in Lebanon in 2006, but also in other places such as South East Asia during the Vietnam War, Bosnia, and Iraq. Comprising a canister containing multiple bomblets or sub-munitions, the high failure rate of cluster munitions create major difficulties for civilians returning to their homes and livelihoods post-conflict.