Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Dublin Diplomatic Conference on Cluster Munitions

The United States, the largest producer, stockpiler and seller of cluster munitions, has declined to participate in this conference. Russia, China, Pakistan and Israel also declined. The U.S. has used these weapons in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. Israel used them most recently in southern Lebanon.

Press Release from Jane's Information Group:

Cluster Munitions Conference opens with cautious optimism

By Brooks Tigner

20 May 2008

The Dublin Diplomatic Conference on Cluster Munitions opened on 19 May, with international negotiators expressing high levels of confidence that the forum will complete its negotiations on 30 May with a binding treaty that contains few loopholes for the weapons to be produced, stockpiled, transferred or used.

The draft treaty under consideration would outlaw the use, production or trading of cluster munitions that cause unnecessary harm to civilians and lay down a deadline of six years - after the treaty enters force - for the destruction of all existing stocks. Around 210 different kinds of cluster munitions have been produced in 34 countries and used in at least 30 wars during the last four decades. Billions of cluster bomblets and grenades are stockpiled in approximately 75 countries, according to UN and humanitarian estimates.

Dublin is the final diplomatic conference of the Oslo Process, which began in February 2007. Forty-six governments met in the Norwegian capital to conclude a new treaty to ban cluster munitions, provide assistance to victims, destroy existing stocks and decontaminate affected regions around the world.

"When you consider that Oslo got off the ground only 15 months ago and that we are ready to adopt a final text, this has moved with unprecedented speed," Irish foreign minister Michel Martin said during statements opening the conference.

© 2008 Jane's Information Group

(For an unbelievable comment from Stephen Mull of the U.S. State Department, see this link.)

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