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Cluster Bomb Survivor Speaks

Cluster Bomb Survivor Speaks

The opening speech from Branislav Kapetanovic, the Serbian deminer cluster munition survivor.

I would like to greet you all and to express my great pleasure to see so many of you attending this important meeting.

I am pleased to see that a number of new countries have joined this process.

We are here to focus on some very important issues, such as victim assistance, clearance, stockpile destruction, international cooperation and assistance etc.

We shouldn’t waste time on discussions about which of the cluster bombs are more or less dangerous. In previous meetings I have repeated many times that there are no good and bad cluster bombs, there are no dangerous and less dangerous cluster munitions – they are all equally dangerous and there is no expert who would be able to prove with absolute certainty that safe cluster bombs exist. Discussions on whether some cluster bombs are better than others are only a waste of time for us here, but in the future they could result in waste of human lives.

So let me remind you why we are here today
– we are here because more than 90 % of casualties caused by cluster munitions are civilians.
– 30 countries and territories of the world have a problem with contamination by unexploded sub-munitions
– In the course of just 1 year after the war in Lebanon had ended, 45 of my colleagues deminers, 45 people who were trained to work with cluster munitions, have become victims of cluster munitions while clearing unexploded sub-munitions.

All this tells us that cluster munitions do not discriminate among their victims and there are no cluster bombs that can guarantee anybody safety; if professionals are getting injured what can we expect that can happen to civilians and innocent children?

Maybe some of you believe that cluster munitions problem is a problem of some far away countries and distant wars, a problem far from your home. Before 1999, nobody thought about cluster bombs in my country, but cluster munitions have since then become a great problem that caused human suffering and contamination of large surfaces. There are no guarantees that any of us will be spared for this problem in future if we don’t put a stop to it now.

I will finish by wishing you successful work at this conference and I hope you will provide a solid basis for the final negotiations at the conference in Dublin.

So let’s all together come to the solution that is best for all of us, for all of us participating in this process – let’s achieve a total ban on cluster munitions, with no excuses and no exceptions!


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