Wednesday, Dec 03, 2008
Some 100 nations began putting their names Wednesday to a landmark treaty banning cluster bombs, amid calls for major arms producers such as China, Russia and the United States to join them.
Norway — which played a key role in hammering out the worldwide ban on using, producing, transferring and stockpiling of cluster munitions — was the first country to sign the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM).
“The world is a safer place today,” Richard Moyes of the Cluster Munitions Coalition, an umbrella group that comprises some 300 non-governmental organisations, told AFP.
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“This is the biggest humanitarian treaty of the last decade.”
Dropped from warplanes or fired from artillery guns, cluster bombs explode in mid-air to randomly scatter hundreds of bomblets, which can be just eight centimetres (three inches) big.
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Many bomblets fail to explode, littering war zones with de facto landmines that can kill and maim long after a conflict ends.
Worldwide, about 100,000 people have been killed or maimed by cluster bombs since 1965, 98 percent of them civilians, says Handicap International, a campaign group.