Afghanistan: global ban on cluster bombs ratified
14 September 2011

Former landmine victim now runs an income-generating activity in Sohadat settlement for returnees, near Herat, Afghanistan (Peter Balleis SJ/ JRS)
Afghanis have suffered greatly from the use of cluster munitions. By ratifying the convention, Afghanis are no longer just victims of these despicable weapons, but advocates for their prohibition, said JRS International Director, Peter Balleis SJ.
Beirut, 13 September 2011 – Afghanistan should be commended for its ratification of the international convention banning cluster bombs in defiance of pressure from the United States, according to the Jesuit Refugee Service, a member of the Cluster Bomb Coalition.

Afghanistan signed the convention in Oslo, Norway on 3 December 2008, after a directive from President Hamid Karzai. The signature came as communications made public by Wikileaks this year have revealed attempts by US officials to influence the Afghan government against signing the convention. By ratifying the convention on 8 September 2011, Afghanistan is legally bound by all of its provisions.

"Afghanis have suffered greatly from the use of cluster munitions. By ratifying the convention, Afghanis are no longer just victims of these despicable weapons, but advocates for their prohibition", said JRS International Director, Peter Balleis SJ.

Over the past three decades, the devastating effects of cluster bomb use in Afghanistan – by the Soviets in the 1980s, militia groups in the 1990s and US forces between 2001 and 2002 – have been extensively documented.

Between October 2001 and early 2002, US aircrafts dropped 1,228 cluster bombs containing 248,056 bomblets in 232 strikes on locations throughout the country. According to Cluster Munition Monitor, at least 771 casualties from cluster munitions have been recorded in Afghanistan.

The Convention on Cluster Munitions was adopted in May 2008 and entered into force in August 2010, becoming binding international law. As of 13 September 2011, a total of 110 nations had signed or acceded to the convention, which 63 states had ratified, becoming full states parties.

The Second Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions is being held in Beirut on 12 -16 September 2011. Approximately 120 governments are expected to participate in the meeting including more than 30 observer nations that have not yet acceded to the convention.

In Beirut, states will discuss their work to implement the 66-point action plan agreed on at their last meeting held in Vientiane, Laos in November 2010. Under the convention, states parties are required to destroy their stockpiled cluster munitions within eight years, clear contaminated land within 10 years, assist victims, and promote the convention to non-signatory governments.






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James Stapleton
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