Kiwis Show Support for Treaty to Ban Cluster Bombs
Wednesday 20 February
Today New Zealanders Show Support for Treaty to Ban Cluster Bombs
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Today the New Zealand public have shown their support for a cluster munitions conference taking place in Wellington to negotiate a legally-binding treaty on cluster munitions by the end of 2008.
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Almost 1,000 people joined the physical petition by lying on the cobble stones of Civic Square, Wellington and having a chalk outline drawn around their bodies to symbolise the horrific impact of cluster munitions.
The outlines spread to cover the whole of the square, creating a powerful visual display of the public’s sentiment.
The protest was started with a call to action from Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Jody Williams who asked the public to demonstrate their support of the negotiations.
Photographs of the outlines together with signatures collected online and from a leaflet drop that took place over Wellington last year will be presented to the Hon. Phil Goff, the Minster of Disarmament, in a parliamentary reception at 6.30pm this evening. The number of petitions totals approximately 3,000.
The petition will be presented, on behalf of the New Zealand public, by Jody Williams and cluster bomb survivors from Afghanistan, Iraq, Serbia and Tajikistan.
Notes for Editors
About Cluster Munitions
A cluster munition is a weapon comprised of a container that is fired, launched or dropped by aircraft or land-based artillery and disperses large numbers (often hundreds) of unguided submunitions/bomblets. The impact of cluster munitions on civilians is two-fold. The weapon cannot distinguish between military targets and civilians so its humanitarian impact can be extreme when it is used in or near populated areas. A second impact is the weapon’s legacy; Because so many bomblets fail to detonate when dispersed, they become de facto antipersonnel mines, killing and maiming people long after the conflict has ended.
During the 2003 Iraq air war, cluster munitions dropped by UK and US forces caused more civilian casualties than any other weapon system, apart from small arms fire. In August 2006, Israel deployed 90 percent of its cluster bomb strikes in the final 72 hours of the war against Hezbollah in Lebanon, when it knew there would be a resolution to the conflict. This created more than one million unexploded cluster munition duds and prompted an unprecedented multilateral response to tackle this deadly weapon.
About the Coalition
The Aotearoa NZ Cluster Munition Coalition was established in March 2007 to help curb civilian harm from cluster munitions. The group of non-governmental organizations supports the diplomatic effort to negotiate a legally-binding treaty on cluster munitions by the end of 2008.