Cluster bombs have massively been used during wars in recent years, in former Yugoslavia, Iraq or Afghanistan, for example. They kill and mutilate civilians and even after the hostilities are termintated, they still remain very dangerous and hamper the rebuilding until they are removed.
Now, six months after the 30th ratification, the ban of cluster munitions comes into force on 1 August 2010. Germany has ratified the treaty already in 2009. It prohibits the use, the production, stock and transfer of cluster munitions and regulates the destruction of existing stocks within eight years. In the following years cluster munitions that have been spread within former zones of conflict are envisaged to be destroyed worldwide.
On the initiative of the transnational network of non-governmental organizations (Cluster Munition Coalition) and a group of like-minded states, the treaty has been negotiated within five conferences with the participation of NGOs. As a result of the Convention, Germany for example has to destroy 95 percent of its cluster munition stock.
However, important producers and states who used cluster munitions in the past, such as Russia, china, Pakistan, India, Israel, Brazil and the U.S. are not among the 104 signatory parties. But similar conventions give reason to hope that these states will also act according to the convention and respect the ban of cluster munitions. The convention can be pereived as a mile stone on a still long road of humanitarian arms control.
For further information on this subject:
Simone Wisotzki, Between Morality and Military Interests: Norm Setting in Humanitarian Arms Control, PRIF Reports No. 92, Frankfurt/M. 2010.
Here available as free download
Dr Simone Wisotzki