Lusaka Summit Supports International Ban on Cluster Munitions
More than 100 nations met in Lusaka, Zambia last week to reaffirm their commitment to the international ban on cluster munitions during a four-day international conference.
The Fourth Meeting of States Parties (4MSP) to the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) highlighted significant progress made in the area of effective clearance of land contaminated with cluster munitions. States Parties cleared nearly 78km² across 11 states and two other areas in 2012 according to the Cluster Munition Monitor 2013 report.
Zambia, which took on the Convention’s presidency at the meeting, expressed strong commitment to bringing all countries on board the Treaty. This is the first Meeting of States Parties to the Convention to be held in Africa. Previous meetings of the Convention were held in Lao PDR, Lebanon, and Norway.
The 4MSP President, Zambia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Wylbur Simuusa, called for Africa-wide adherence to the ban on cluster munitions.
Mr. Simuusa pointed out during a news conference at the end of the deliberations that States Parties have collectively destroyed around 70 percent of their stockpiled cluster munitions. He disclosed that several other States Parties with stockpiles are on track to complete destruction well in advance of the deadlines required by the Treaty.
African countries have been outspoken in their support for the global ban since its 2008 negotiation in Dublin, Ireland. Uganda hosted the first Africa-wide meeting on cluster munitions in 2008 and Zambia hosted a meeting of the Oslo Process to Ban Cluster Munitions in Livingstone in the same year. Ghana and Togo hosted regional meetings on the Convention on Cluster Munitions in 2012 and 2013 respectively. Forty-two of fifty-four African countries have joined the Convention, though nineteen of those have yet to ratify the treaty.
Also addressing journalists at the news conference, Neil Buhne, Director of the Geneva Liaison Office of UNDP’s Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery (BCPR) reaffirmed his agency’s support to efforts aimed at prohibiting cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm to civilians due to the humanitarian impact and the range of negative impacts on development that their use entails.
UNDP has a global mandate to work with national authorities to support the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. However, in affected countries, the work of the agency towards these goals is hampered by the impact of cluster munitions.
As interim implementation support unit for the Convention, UNDP provided both financial and technical support towards the organization of the Fourth Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
At the close of the four-day global event, the Cluster Munition Coalition(CMC), a nongovernmental group working to eradicate weapons, issued a press statement welcoming the commitment of the Zambian presidency to a global ban on cluster munitions. “The success of this Convention to date in reducing human suffering caused by cluster munitions was clearly demonstrated at the meeting. This success is built on the acknowledgement by a majority of countries that these indiscriminate weapons have no place in today’s world,” said CMC Director, Sarah Blakemore.
Cluster munitions survivors from countries including Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Iraq, Lao PDR, Tajikistan, and Vietnam participated in the Zambia meeting and met with country delegates throughout the week. Assistance to survivors, and to their families and communities, is a key component of the Convention in addressing the unacceptable harm caused by cluster munitions.
“The inclusion of survivors is an essential characteristic of the cluster munition ban community and something all states should be particularly proud of,” said Cluster Munition Coalition Spokesperson, Branislav Kaptanovic who himself is a survivor.
A total of 112 countries have signed the convention out of which 83 are States Parties while 29 countries have only signed and are yet to ratify the convention which prohibits all use, stockpiling, production and transfer of cluster weapons and places the responsibility of financial support and other assistance to clean up the explosives on its signatories.