Over 100 Countries Agree to Ban Cluster Bombs, Key Nations Absent

As with seemingly every other international agreement that has the capacity to effect real change, from the Kyoto Accord to the International Criminal Court, those nations whose participation is most needed refuse to be involved in the talks or sign the accord.

That the United States, Russia, China and Israel did not participate or agree to today’s treaty to ban cluster bombs is an unacceptable affront to the international community and to all of the people whose lives have been affected by these devastating and unnecessary munititions.

For a heartbreakingly human portrait of this issue, I urge you to see Bahman Ghobadi’s incredible film “Turtles Can Fly“. It’s impossible to imagine any possible benefit for using these kinds of weapons, no matter what the conflict.

More than 100 countries attending a conference in Dublin, Ireland formally adopted a treaty Friday to ban cluster bombs — a large, unreliable and inaccurate weapon that often affects civilians long after the end of armed conflict. art.jpg

Ali Wansa, a 44-year-old Lebanese national, lost his leg to a cluster bomb.

The countries agreed never to use cluster munitions or the explosive bomblets they contain, and they also agreed never to develop, acquire, retain or transfer cluster munitions, according to the official treaty document.

The 111 countries attending the two-week meeting agreed to the treaty Wednesday but formally signed it Friday.

The countries said they are “deeply concerned” about civilians suffering the long-term effects of cluster bombs.

They are “concerned that cluster munition remnants kill or maim civilians, including women and children, obstruct economic and social development, including through the loss of livelihood, impede post-conflict rehabilitation and reconstruction, delay or prevent the return of refugees and internally displaced persons, can negatively impact on national and international peace-building and humanitarian assistance efforts, and have other severe consequences that can persist for many years after use,” the document said.

In addition to calling for a total, immediate ban of the weapons, the international accord calls for strong standards to protect those injured by them and to make sure that contaminated areas are cleaned up as quickly as possible and that the weapons are immediately destroyed, a spokesman for the Cluster Munition Coalition told CNN.

Some of the biggest makers and users of cluster bombs cited by human rights groups — such the United States, Russia, China and Israel — were not involved in the talks and did not sign the accord. Organizers expressed hope that those nations would nevertheless be pressured into compliance.

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