News Release

Cluster Bomb Talks Held in Geneva


This week, talks on banning cluster weapons will be held in Geneva within the framework on the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, ratified by 100 countries. Last month, 68 national governments conferred in Lima, Peru, to ban cluster weapons.

Stedjan is the legislative secretary for the Friends Committee on National Legislation and coordinator of the U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines. He said today: “While designed to explode on impact, cluster bomblets typically fail to detonate as intended approximately 5 percent to 30 percent of the time, leaving behind large numbers of hazardous explosive ‘duds’ that are akin to landmines, injuring and killing civilians and contaminating the land long after conflicts. The United Nations Mine Action Coordination Center in South Lebanon estimates that as many as 40 percent of Israeli cluster munitions used during the conflict failed to explode, leaving anywhere from 563,200 to 1,126,400 unexploded bomblets in the southern part of the country. … The last cluster bomb was dropped on Laos [by the U.S. government] in 1973, and people in that country are still affected by their use. In the past 30 years, 12,000 Laotian civilians, many of whom were not born when the bombs were dropped, have been killed or injured from contact with an unexploded cluster dud.”

Stedjan added: “As the country with the largest stockpile of cluster munitions, the U.S. must begin to take this issue seriously. The U.S. can take the first steps by enacting a [U.S. legal] prohibition on the use of U.S. cluster munitions against civilian areas and engaging in international discussions toward a global ban on cluster munitions that pose unacceptable harm to civilians.”
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Kimball is executive director and Boese is research director for the Arms Control Association. Kimball said today: “Although biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons dominate media headlines and public fears about safety and security in the United States, conventional arms inflict numerous deaths and untold suffering throughout the world every day. … On a daily basis around the world, thousands of people face the very real threat of being the victims of rifles, mortars, tanks, grenades, bazookas, attack helicopters, and other weapons of war. All told, these types of weapons produce more suffering on a day-to-day basis than so-called weapons of mass destruction. … Tough new controls on international arms sales are overdue, and work towards banning the use of cluster bombs and other weapons that produce the most inhumane and indiscriminate types of effects must be accelerated.”
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Kenny is the senior program officer at Handicap International, U.S. He said today: “The upcoming meetings of the Convention on Conventional Weapons in Geneva are unlikely to result in the necessary international ban on the use, production, stockpiling, and transfer of cluster munitions. The Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC), of which Handicap International is a founding member along with more than 200 humanitarian and human rights organizations, has campaigned since 2003 for a total ban on cluster munitions and challenged the failure of the Convention on Conventional Weapons review process to address the worsening humanitarian crises caused by cluster munitions.”
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For more information, contact the Institute for Public Accuracy at (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan at (541) 484-9167