Minister Ahern welcomes growing international momentum towards prohibition on Cluster Munitions
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern TD, has welcomed the growing momentum towards the prohibition of Cluster Munitions which cause harm to civilians. Over half the member states of the United Nations have now signed up to a prohibition on the use, stockpiling and transfer of these terrible weapons which have had a horrendous impact on the lives of civilians around the world.
Minister Ahern said “I have seen at first hand the horrendous humanitarian impact of these weapons in Lebanon and elsewhere. Civilians continue to be killed and maimed by cluster munitions, often many years after conflict has ended. The international community has a responsibility to stop this suffering now”.
The Minister went on to stress that “Ireland, along with a number of other like-minded countries, has taken a lead in efforts to secure agreement on a legally binding international treaty prohibiting cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm to civilians. It is vital that we conclude this treaty at the Diplomatic Conference which the Government of Ireland is hosting in Dublin at the end of May. Over 100 member states of the United Nations have now signed up to the Wellington Declaration that commits them to that aim.
I am encouraged by the growing political momentum behind our efforts. The determination of such a huge number of countries to bring an end to the use of these weapons, and the suffering they cause, is heartening. I am determined to seize this chance to make a real difference to the lives of civilians, particularly women and children, who are dealing with the humanitarian consequences of these weapons every day”.
Note for Editors:
The Dublin Diplomatic Conference on Cluster Munitions will be hosted by the Irish Government, and will take place from 19-30 May. The venue will be the Croke Park conference centre. The Conference is intended to complete negotiations on a new instrument of international humanitarian law on cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm to civilians.
States endorsing the Oslo Declaration of February 2007 committed themselves to conclude by 2008 a legally binding instrument to prohibit such cluster munitions and to establish a framework for cooperation and assistance to survivors, provide for clearance of contaminated areas and for destruction of stockpiles of prohibited cluster munitions. The process is being driven by a small group of States – Ireland, Austria, New Zealand, Norway, Mexico, Peru and the Holy See.
The past year has seen intensive work to that end with the active support of Governments, the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Cluster Munition Coalition and other NGOs. At the most recent meeting of the Oslo Process in Wellington, New Zealand, in February, 80 states endorsed the urgency and importance of the objective and demonstrated strong political momentum to achieve an early and ambitious result in Dublin. In an important benchmark, one hundred States have now subscribed to the Wellington Declaration, signaling their commitment to work in Dublin for an agreement on the prohibition of Cluster Munitions causing unacceptable harm to civilians. This already represents more than half the member states of the United Nations, and more states are expected to sign up to this objective in the period leading up to the Diplomatic Conference and at the Conference itself.
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