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Centre supports cluster munition ban

PRESS RELEASE

21 February 2008

For immediate release

Global resource centre supports cluster munition ban

The Development Resource Centre (DRC), an independent Aotearoa New Zealand based resource centre on international development and global issues, today expressed its support for the New Zealand Government’s strong stand at the Wellington Conference on Cluster Munitions.

The International Cluster Munitions Conference being held in Wellington this week is the penultimate conference in the Oslo process that aims to ban the use of cluster munitions.

Cluster munitions are weapons comprising of submunitions/bomblets that disperse over large areas and can leave high quantities of unexploded bomblets. In recent years cluster bombs have been used in Lebanon, Afghanistan, and in Iraq in 2003.

‘The nature of cluster munitions means they often leave a fatal legacy, impacting civilians during, and for a long time after, conflict. Unexploded bomblets are not only an immediate hazard to civilians, of which 40% of those affected are children, but also create lasting development problems; through the disabling of citizens, rendering agricultural areas unusable and hindering reconstruction efforts,” said DRC Director, Tim O’Donovan.

“We urge all governments to support a treaty that bans cluster bombs, without exceptions or delays. The New Zealand Government has taken a leading role in the negotiation of the Cluster Munitions Treaty and many from the Pacific such as the Cook Islands, Fiji and Nauru have shown their support for a strong treaty during the conference,” said Mr O’Donovan.

“The DRC urges the few countries such as the UK, France and Japan who are lobbying for exceptions or changes that will weaken the treaty, to consider the impact any changes will have on those affected by the legacy of cluster munitions,” he added.

Statements supporting the banning of cluster munitions have been made by the majority of the 122 country delegations at the conference and countries will need to officially declare their support for the Wellington declaration during the final day of the conference on Friday. The next Oslo Process Conference is to be held in Dublin in May of this year where the final negotiations will take place. The treaty will be signed in Oslo towards the end of 2008.


ENDS

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