New global ban on cluster bombs will save millions of young lives
3 June 2008Stressing the unspeakable suffering inflicted on millions of children by the use of cluster munitions, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has lauded the recent adoption of a new global treaty banning the production, use and transfer of these deadly weapons. “This is an important treaty and UNICEF calls on all governments to sign and ratify it as quickly as possible,” said the agency’s Deputy Executive Director, Hilde F. Johnson.Delegations from 111 States agreed on the text of the new international convention at the Diplomatic Conference on Cluster Munitions held in Dublin last month. The treaty – which will be signed in Oslo in December – has been widely hailed by UN officials, including Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who said it will “enhance the protection of civilians, strengthen human rights and improve prospects for development.”According to UNICEF, the deadly weapons have been in use for over six decades and continue to contaminate wide areas of countries like Laos, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Afghanistan and Iraq.Roughly 40 per cent of victims of cluster bombs are children who are injured or killed long after direct hostilities end. Children are particularly at risk from cluster munitions as they are small and shiny and attract children’s natural curiosity. “By their very nature, cluster munitions spread out littering wide areas and rendering them uninhabitable. Bomblets are frequently found in school yards, fields and other areas where children play and explore,” Ms. Johnson said.“With billions of cluster munitions stockpiled around the world, this treaty could help secure the world for generations to come,” she added.