FEEDBACK – End the use of cluster munitions: All States have to join the Oslo Convention!

Posted by: on Sep 6, 2018 | No Comments

From 3 to 5 September, the state parties to the convention on cluster munitions met in Geneva at their yearly conference, where progress and challenges are discussed.

Among the great steps presented at the conference, we learned that 99 % of cluster munitions, which were stockpiled by the states parties before, are already destroyed. Clearance of affected states is also on a good way, but cluster munition contamination is still found in 26 states and 3 regions.

Universalization of the Convention on Cluster Munition is still a challenge

With a warm round of applause, Namibia – who had ratified the convention right before the meeting – was welcomed as 104 state party. Nevertheless universalization stays one of the biggest challenges: 26 states parties are still missing to reach the target of 130 states parties by 2020, formulated in the Dubrovnik Action Plan in 2015. As cluster munitions are still used by non-state parties such as Syria or Saudi-Arabia, it is most important that all states accede to the treaty.

Aisha Saeed on behalf of the Cluster Munition CoalitionCMC-member Aisha Saeed, from Yemen, found moving words to describe this challenge when she addressed the conference on universalization:

“The suffering caused by cluster munitions is so obvious and horrendous, both at the time of use and in the aftermath. We see it clearly in my country, Yemen, where cluster munitions take lives away and where remnants will continue to threaten communities far into the future, until land is cleared to humanitarian standards. We see it in Syria, where the attacks continue and thousands of casualties have been reported. We don’t want to see it anymore.
To states that are not yet on board the convention, we wish to say: if you feel like international law, multilateralism, decency, and respect for human lives are increasingly disregarded and threatened, there is something you can do about it. There is action you can take. Help to reinforce international law, claim your role in multilateralism, state your belief in the rule of law – through joining and implementing international instruments. The Convention on Cluster Munitions is one of them, and it has a real impact on people’s lives.”

Progresses on clearance in affected states

Clearance progress in some affected states was one of the positive results, CMC ambassador Branislav Kapetanovic mentionned in his statement: Branislav Kapetanovic on behalf of the Cluster Munition Coalition

This progress on clearance is good news for all the people who live in affected communities. As a former deminer myself, I can testify to the hard work of clearance units worldwide. But this work can only be successful if backed up by adequate methodologies, accurate databases, and comprehensive national plans.

A concept to advance clearance efforts was mentioned by several states and presented in a side event at the end of the conference. Country coalitions should bring together governments and mine action authorities of affected states with ambassadors of donor states in these countries, local NGOs and INGO. A successful example from Lebanon was presented during this side event.

Investment in cluster munitions as illegal under the convention

Another positive development was presented in a side event organised by PAX. Indeed, 44 States parties declared not only use, stockpiling, trade and production, but also investment in cluster munitions as illegal under the convention. Their argument was based on legislation or interpretive statements on Article 1(1)c of the convention.

One state where these explosive investments are still legal is Germany. Eva Maria Fischer, HI Germany, emphasised the need of divestment on the panel of this side event and presented examples of campaigning on this issue from Germany.