Press release from UNDP
Thirty countries have now ratified the convention triggering its entry into force in six months time, as of 1 August 2010. This is a landmark achievement that will improve the lives and prospects of people affected by explosive remnants of war in countries around the world.
“The ratifying countries have shown leadership and resolve, and stand as examples to be followed,” said Jordan Ryan, Director of the Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Cluster munitions are canister weapons that open in mid-air, scattering numerous small explosive devices (known as sub-munitions, or bomblets) over a wide area. They may be delivered by aircraft, rockets, or artillery projectiles, and have a wide dispersal pattern that results in a very large area of impact.
They remain on the ground for decades after a conflict, breeding fear, maiming innocents, and obstructing the full human, social and economic development of affected communities.
A 2007 report from Handicap International estimated that 98 percent of all casualties of failed cluster munitions are civilians. Cluster munitions often cause more civilian casualties than any other weapon, as in Iraq in 2003 and Kosovo in 1999. In Lebanon cluster munitions caused more than 200 civilian casualties in the year following the ceasefire with Israel in August 2006.
In Laos, around 78 million unexploded sub-munitions remain in or on the ground. With current clearance rates, all agricultural land in Laos may be cleared in 16 years.
Cluster munitions, landmines and other explosive remnants of war hamper the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals in affected countries and communities who are already battling the burden of poverty and marginalization.
“To build a more prosperous world we must be committed to building a safer world and to protecting the rights of every man, woman and child to life, livelihood, and development,” said Jordan Ryan.
Read more about cluster munitions.