12 November 2010


Cluster bombs: 66-point plan turns legal obligations into concrete actions. Historic Laos meeting sets a new standard to judge all states

(Vientiane, 12 November 2010) - Governments agreed today on a 66-point action plan to turn legal obligations in the cluster bomb treaty into concrete actions. The Vientiane Declaration and Action Plan issued at the First Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions set unprecedented new standards by which all governments will be judged, the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) said today at the conclusion of the meeting, which was held in Lao PDR, a country heavily contaminated by cluster bombs.

The Vientiane Declaration says the Convention "sets a new standard by which states will be judged. We believe the sea change in the opinion of governments around the world towards this weapon will continue." Governments agreed to hold their second meeting in Lebanon in September 2011, another nation seriously contaminated by cluster bombs. "This action plan marks a dramatic change in the way cluster bombs are perceived and dealt with by all governments," said Thomas Nash, CMC Coordinator. "First, the cluster bomb treaty set the strongest legal obligations to assist victims ever and now we have a clear action plan which obliges governments to turn legal language into action with rapid deadlines and clear budgets. This is exactly what people living in contaminated areas have been waiting for."

The Vientiane Action Plan clearly recognises that not enough has been done to prevent accidents, clear land and help victims. The 66-point plan commits to "implement fully all of the obligations under the Convention". In addition, it speeds up deadlines and sets budgets and targets to make it happen:

  • Stockpile destruction: The treaty obliges States Parties* to destroy stockpiles within eight years. Now, they have one year to set a timeline and a budget to begin the destruction.
  • Clearance and risk education: The treaty obliges States Parties to clear contaminated areas within 10 years. Now, they have one year to identify all contaminated areas, develop a plan and begin clearance. Risk education is also prioritised
  • Victim assistance: The treaty obliges States Parties to provide an unprecedented level of assistance to cluster munition victims. Now, contaminated states have agreed to designate a focal point for victim assistance within six months.
  • International assistance: The treaty obliges states in a position to do so to provide assistance to affected countries to clear contaminated areas and assist victims. Affected countries have now agreed to do more on clearance and victim assistance in 2011 and donor countries have also agreed to respond to requests from affected states already in 2011.
  • Reporting: States have committed to collect all necessary data on victims and casualties.

Several states made positive announcements at the Vientiane meeting, including Austria, which joined seven other countries that have already completed destroying their stockpiled cluster munitions. In addition to funding already committed for clearance and victim assistance work, Australia, Belgium, Luxembourg, New Zealand and Switzerland announced new contributions totaling over US$ 6.7 million for Lao PDR next year.

"In affected countries like Laos and Lebanon, cluster bomb incidents that maim and kill are all too common," said Bounlanh Phayboun, Chief Executive Officer, COPE, a Vientiane-based CMC member that provides prosthetics, orthotics and rehabilitation to cluster munition survivors and other persons with disabilities. "The fact that governments have now agreed to speed up treaty deadlines and really help with clearance and mine-risk education means we can reduce the risk of tragic casualties, as long as states commit enough resources and are in it for the long haul."

Delegates gathered in Vientiane were reminded of the long-term devastation cluster munitions cause when, during the course of the meeting, a cluster submunition explosion in Lao PDR's Bolikhamxay province killed a 10-year-old girl and injured her 15-year-old sister on 10 November. The CMC also commended the government of Lao PDR for its leadership in hosting the successful meeting and for showing delegates the hard reality of the cluster munition problem. Participants at the conference said that the visit to Xieng Khuang province - where the Plain of Jars is located and one of the most heavily cluster-bombed areas during US-led bombing raids from 1964-1973 during the Vietnam war - really brought home to them the need to prioritise land clearance and risk education.

A total of 121 governments attended the four-day meeting, including some 34 non-signatories (see below for attendance list), a very positive sign for future engagement on the treaty. Many countries sent high-level delegations and UN Deputy Secretary General Asha-Rose Migiro attended. To date, the treaty has 108 signatories and 46 States Parties. "As survivors, we face some very real challenges and the 66-point action plan shows that there is sincere commitment to deal with the task ahead in affected countries around the world," said Branislav Kapetanovic, a CMC spokesman from Serbia who lost all four limbs in a cluster bomb blast when working as a deminer.

At the closing ceremony of the Vientiane meeting, a delegation of survivors and a delegation of youth leaders from around the world each delivered strong declarations affirming their commitment to carry forward the campaign and hold governments to account.Campaigners will continue to urge all countries to get on board the treaty. Through the Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor, the CMC will track and publish states' progress on meeting their treaty obligations.

* The Convention enters into force for a country and it becomes a state party six months after it ratifies or accedes. From this point forward, all the treaty's obligations become legally binding for that country.


About cluster bombs. A cluster munition (or cluster bomb) is a weapon containing multiple - often hundreds - of small explosive submunitions or bomblets. Cluster munitions are dropped from the air or fired from the ground and designed to break open in mid-air, releasing the submunitions over an area that can be the size of several football fields. This means they cannot discriminate between civilians and soldiers. Many of the submunitions fail to explode on impact and remain a threat to lives and livelihoods for decades after a conflict.

About the Convention on Cluster Munitions. The Convention on Cluster Munitions bans the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster munitions and requires countries to clear affected areas within 10 years and destroy stockpiles of the weapon within eight. The Convention includes groundbreaking provisions requiring assistance to victims and affected communities. Signed in Oslo in December 2008, the Convention entered into force as binding international law on 1 August 2010 and is the most significant international disarmament treaty since the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty banning antipersonnel landmines.

About the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC). The CMC is an international coalition with more than 350 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working in around 100 countries to encourage urgent action against cluster bombs. The CMC facilitates NGO efforts worldwide to educate governments, the public and the media about the problems of cluster munitions and to urge universalisation and full implementation of the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions. http:www.stopclustermunitions.org/

The following 108 countries have signed the Convention. Afghanistan, Albania, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Cameroon, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Comoros, DR Congo, Republic of Congo, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Côte D'Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Fiji, France, Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Haiti, The Holy See, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Lao PDR, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia FYR, Madagascar , Malawi, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mexico, Republic of Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Rwanda, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tomé and Principe, St. Vincent and Grenadines, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Slovenia, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Zambia.

Of these, the following 46 countries have ratified the Convention. Albania (16 Jun 2009), Antigua & Barbuda (23 Aug 2010), Austria (2 Apr 2009), Belgium (22 Dec 2009), Bosnia & Herzegovina (7 Sep 2010), Burkina Faso (16 February 2010), Burundi (25 Sep 2009), Cape Verde, (19 October 2010), Comoros (28 July 2010), Croatia (17 Aug 2009), Denmark (12 February 2010), Ecuador (11 May 2010), Fiji (28 May 2010), France (25 Sep 2009), Germany (8 Jul 2009), Guatemala (3 Nov 2010), The Holy See (3 Dec 2008), Ireland (3 Dec 2008), Japan (14 Jul 2009), Lao PDR (18 Mar 2009), Lebanon (5 Nov 2010), Lesotho (28 May 2010), Luxembourg (10 Jul 2009), Macedonia (8 Oct 2009), Malawi (7 Oct 2009), Mali (30 June 2010), Malta (24 Sep 2009), Mexico (6 May 2009), Moldova (16 February 2010), Monaco (21 Sep 2010), Montenegro (25 January 2010), New Zealand (22 Dec 2009), Nicaragua (6 Nov 2009), Niger (2 Jun 2009), Norway (3 Dec 2008), Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (29 Oct 2010), Samoa (28 April 2010), San Marino (10 Jul 2009), Seychelles (20 May 2010), Sierra Leone (3 Dec 2008), Slovenia (19 Aug 2009), Spain (17 Jun 2009), Tunisia (28 Sep 2010), United Kingdom (4 May 2010), Uruguay (24 Sep 2009), Zambia (12 Aug 2009).

Attendance at the First Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions. TOTAL (121) STATES PARTIES (40) Albania, Antigua and Barbuda, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Croatia, Comoros, Denmark, Ecuador, Fiji, France, Germany, Guatemala, Holy See, Ireland, Japan, Lao PDR, Lebanon, Lesotho, Luxembourg, Macedonia FYR, Malawi, Mali, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Norway, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Slovenia, Spain, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Zambia. SIGNATORY STATES (47) Afghanistan, Angola, Australia, Benin, Botswana, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Republic of Congo, Costa Rica, Cote d'Ivoire, Czech Republic, DR Congo, Djibouti, El Salvador, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Indonesia, Iraq, Italy, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Palau, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda. NON-SIGNATORY STATES/OBSERVERS (34 )Argentina, Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Burma, Cambodia, China, Eritrea, Finland, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Mongolia, Morocco, Palestine, Poland, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Sudan, Swaziland, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor Leste, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Ukraine, Vietnam, Zimbabwe.

CONTACTS. In Vientiane, Lao PDR, Conor Fortune (English, Spanish): +856-20-5457-9109 (Lao mobile); or +44-7515575174 (UK mobile); or conor@stopclustermunitions.org - In Vientiane, Lao PDR, Samantha Bolton (English, French, Italian): +856-20-5457-9110 (Lao mobile); +41-79-239-2366 (Swiss mobile); or clustermunitioncoalition@gmail.com