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06.10.2008 Africa

Africans ready to sign convention banning cluster munitions

By gna

A total of 28 African countries have affirmed their commitment to sign the convention on banning the use of cluster munitions by
the end of the year.

The Convention on Cluster Munitions is an international treaty that bans cluster bombs and provides assistance to affected communities to be opened for signature in Oslo, Norway, on December 3, 2008, the International Day for Persons with Disabilities.

A total of 107 states adopted the Convention in Dublin, Ireland, in May 2008, a statement issued in Accra by Foundation for Security and Development in Africa (FOSDA) to the Ghana News Agency on Monday stated.

The statement said the continent's position was made at the just-ended African Regional Conference on Cluster Munitions held in Kampala, Uganda.

According to the statement, the Africa Regional Conference adopted the “Kampala Action Plan” outlining a series of strong actions by civil society organisations across the continent to persuade African governments to sign the Convention.

The Kampala Conference is the second in a series of regional meetings arranged to build support for signing the convention banning the use of cluster munitions.

Cluster bombs or munitions are large weapons which are deployed from the air and from the ground and release hundreds of smaller sub-munitions.

Sub-munitions released by airdropped cluster bombs are often called “bomblets,” while those delivered from the ground by artillery or rockets are usually referred to as “grenades.”

Air-dropped or ground-launched, they cause two major humanitarian problems and risks to civilians. First, their widespread dispersal means they cannot distinguish between military targets and civilians so the humanitarian impact can be extreme, especially when the weapon is used in or near populated areas.

The Kampala Conference said many sub-munitions used in the past had failed to detonate on impact and become de facto antipersonnel mines killing and maiming people long after the conflict has ended.

The Conference said these duds were more lethal than antipersonnel mines, adding that incidents involving sub-munition duds were much more likely to cause death than injury.

Fourteen countries were identified for having used cluster munitions - Eritrea, Ethiopia, France, Georgia, Israel, Morocco, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Russia (USSR), Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan, UK, US, and FR Yugoslavia.
According to the FOSDA statement, a total of 34 states are known to have produced over 210 different types of cluster munitions whilst more than two dozen countries have been affected by the use of cluster munitions including Afghanistan, Albania, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Cambodia.

The rest were Chad, Croatia, DR Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Georgia, Grenada, Iraq, Israel, Kuwait, Laos, Lebanon, Montenegro, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Uganda, and Vietnam, as well as Chechnya, Falkland, Nagorno-Karabakh, and Western Sahara.

A total of 42 African governments attended the Kampala Conference, which discussed the treaty at the on cluster munitions, of which 28 announced, most for the first time, their intent to sign the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

The countries were Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Republic of Congo, DR Congo, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, and Mali.

Others were Mauritania, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles; Uganda, Togo and Zambia.