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Oxfam: Govt Must Stand Strong on Cluster Bomb Ban

Cluster Bombs: Oxfam calls on government stand strong on cluster bomb ban

Ahead of the opening of the biggest disarmament meeting that New Zealand has ever hosted, the Wellington Conference on Cluster Munitions, Oxfam New Zealand has called on the government to take strong stand to ensure the draft treaty prohibiting this deadly weapon is not weakened or compromised in the course of the meeting.

Hundreds of diplomats from more than 110 countries and civil society representatives from 38 countries are meeting in Wellington this week to discuss the text of an agreement to ban cluster bombs by the end of 2008. "While we will need as many governments to sign up to the final treaty as possible to outlaw this morally reprehensible weapon, it is critical that the draft agreement not been compromised in the hope of bringing on board the "difficult countries," says Oxfam's Advocacy Director Mary Wareham, Coordinator of the Aotearoa New Zealand Cluster Munition Coalition.

"New Zealand and the other governments leading this process, but must not buckle under pressure and weaken the text with loopholes, reservations, and exceptions in order to bring more countries on board."

Together with a Core Group of five other governments, New Zealand has been leading the current "Oslo Process" effort to secure a treaty prohibiting cluster munitions that pose unacceptable harm to civilians by the end of the year.

"New Zealand has demonstrated leadership and integrity throughout the Oslo Process," commended Wareham. "It's crucial that they don't back down as crunch time approaches. The true test of this agreement will be in the strength of its provisions and by the number of lives that are saved as a result."

"If governments are serious about tackling the civilian casualties caused by cluster bombs in Afghanistan, Laos, Lebanon and elsewhere, they will set the bar high so that governments rise to the challenge of meeting it."


Editors Notes Oxfam New Zealand coordinates the Aotearoa New Zealand Cluster Munition Coalition, a national network of non-governmental groups established in March 2007 to support the global campaign against cluster munitions. See: www.stopclusterbombs.org.nz

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