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.
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.