10 Sep 2013
Zambia is familiar with the issue of cluster munitions, a form of explosive weapon that can be air-dropped or ground-launched and releases smaller sub-munitions. Commonly known as cluster bombs, they are designed to kill people, destroy vehicles or buildings and disperse over wide swaths of land.
The bombs that remain as unexploded ordnance stay dormant for years, and kill and maim children or farmers clearing forests and fields long after a conflict has ended. A national survey conducted in Zambia between 2006 and 2009 revealed that landmines, which pose similar threats, still existed in six border provinces, and remnants of cluster munitions were found in the western and northwestern regions of the country, a cruel legacy of neighboring conflicts.
Cluster bombs are an impediment to development, and costly to locate and remove, a price borne by a country that was never a producer or a user of cluster munitions. This is not a new story, nor is it a Zambia story alone, as many communities around the world have suffered from the devastation caused by cluster munitions, across generations.
But the motto “neither a user nor a producer be” accurately defines Zambia’s role as a standard-bearer on the issue, and should motivate others to follow suit at the Fourth Meeting of State Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, taking place in Lusaka from 9 to 13 September.
The Convention, which UNDP helped to draft, prohibits the use, stockpiling, transfer, manufacture and production of cluster munitions. Over the course of recent history, around 15 countries have used cluster munitions, double that number of states has produced them, and over 70 countries have stockpiles of cluster munitions.
Zambia ratified the Convention in 2009. Supported by UNDP and the government of Norway, 36 African countries met recently in Togo, urging the immediate discontinuation of the use of cluster bombs and pointing the finger specifically at the 12 African countries that have not yet joined the Convention.
Kanni Wignaraja is United Nations Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative to Zambia.
Talk to us: How can we continue to support Zambia’s push to create a safer and more peaceful world devoid of cluster munitions for all?
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