Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Thursday, May 29, 2008

111 nations agree to ban cluster-bombs while U.S. abstains from treaty

One-hundred eleven countries agreed Wednesday to ban the use of cluster-bombs and begin destroying their respective arsenals of the dangerous weapon. However, the accomplishment was overshadowed by the absence of several world powers from the agreement, including China, Russia, and the United States, The Washington Post reported Thursday.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, whose personal support helped seal the final agreement, said the ban was a “big step forward to make the world a safer place.”

U.S. military spokesmen said the nation would not be removing the weapon from its arsenal, citing technological advancements that would mitigate its threat to civilian populations, and the need to protect American soldiers.

In addition to the U.S., China, Russia, Israel, India, and Pakistan also abstained from participating in the Dublin conference.

Despite the absences, advocates of the ban, supported by wealthy and poor nations around the world, said they hope it will have the same effect as the landmine ban of 1997, which reduced usage even among non-signatory nations.

Cluster-bombs have ignited such controversy because of the threat they pose to civilian populations after their intended use. While dropped from a plane or fired from the ground, the bombs disperse smaller “bomblets” that spread over a large area, often failing to explode on impact as they are designed to. Farmers, women and children are often maimed or killed when they touch the unexploded munitions, sometimes years after the conflict has ended.

For the full article, click here.


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