Cluster Munitions Treaty Agreed in Dublin

A ground-breaking international treaty to ban cluster munitiions is to be agreed in Dublin today. The text of the treaty was provisionally adopted by 110 states participating in the Croke Park Conference on Wednesday May 28th. The treaty will ban all types of existing cluster munitions. Proposals for transition periods allowing states to use the weapons for between seven and twelve years were defeated. The treaty will impose an obligation on states parties to destroy existing stockpiles of cluster munitions within eight years. Specific provision for humanitarian assistance for victims is included and the treaty imposes obligations in relation to clearance of contaminated land. These provisions go beyond what was agreed in the 1997 Ottawa landmine treaty. The main producers and deployers of cluster bombs, the United States, China, Russia, Israel, India and Pakistan, did not participate in the Conference. A last minute intervention by UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown overcame initial resistance on a blanket ban for cluster munitions. News that the UK was willing to give up cluster munitions that it has used in recent years in Iraq marked a distancing between the US and the UK positions on this issue. Difficulties remain however. New generations of smart cluster munitions fall outside of the scope of this treaty. Particularly controversial has been the introduction of a provision on joint military operations, which will allow states parties to this treaty to participate in military operations with non-states parties who hold stockpiles of cluster munitions.

Negotiations on the adoption of the cluster munition treaty have been led by Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Austria and the Vatican, following the extensive of cluster munitions by Israel in Lebanon in 2006. For further information on the Dublin Diplomatic Conference see: http://www.clustermunitionsdublin.ie/

This blog post is contributed by Dr. Siobhan Mullally