Prohibiting cluster munitions: our chance to protect civilians
Key points highlighted include:
- cluster munitions have been used in at least 30 countries and territories since World War II - they kill and injure civilians not only during attacks but also for years after the conflict has ended
- because so many of the sub-munitions fail to explode as intended, these weapons continue to affect families and communities even after the fighting has ceased
- increasing costs in dealing with cluster munitions make development more difficult - they not only affect livelihoods, but also impact the vital infrastructure necessary for development
- cluster munition contamination has affected the livelihoods of people in numerous countries - access to land becomes more difficult or more dangerous
- in a Lebanon case study, the presence of cluster munitions rendered land unusable which could produce an estimated 6,000 kilograms of tobacco every year - this equates to a loss of $3,500 per family in that area.
The authors point out that 2008 presents an opportunity for the international community to come together and prohibit these weapons. For governments committed to the protection of the vulnerable, this is not just an opportunity, it is a responsibility. The Oslo Process 2007 presents a global initiative to legally ban cluster munitions - such a ban will not only protect future generations from the effects of cluster munitions but also require assistance for the victims of these weapons and increase efforts to remove the millions of explosive devices already present around the world.