82 countries sign Wellington Declaration on cluster munitions

WELLINGTON, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) -- Eighty-two countries present at a cluster munitions conference in Wellington this week have signed the "Wellington Declaration", a crucial step toward a meaningful international treaty on cluster munitions, New Zealand Disarmament and Arms Control Minister Phil Goff said on Friday.


The week-long conference, which ended on Friday, was attended by officials from 103 countries. It has been a pivotal stage in the Oslo Process, which New Zealand and six other countries started last year following frustration at a lack of progress from the United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, Goff said in a press release.
"The Wellington Declaration creates political momentum and will form the basis of formal negotiations at a diplomatic conference in Dublin in May, which aims to create a treaty banning cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm to civilians," he added.
The "Wellington Declaration" arising from talks this week has provided a draft treaty which its promoters hope will become legally binding at an international meeting in Dublin in May.
"Eighty-two countries have already signed and we believe the majority of remaining countries involved will follow suit," he said.
"We are closer than ever to a meaningful treaty which will save lives," Goff said.
The declaration says cluster bombs cause unacceptable harm to civilians and their use, production and transfer must be banned. It says a framework is needed so the survivors of cluster bombs are provided with care and rehabilitation.
The contentious issues were understood to involve possible exemptions to the ban for some types of cluster munitions, possible transition periods during which cluster bombs could still be used, and their use in joint military operations by states that are not part of a future treaty banning them.

Von: http://news.xinhuanet.com, 22.02.2008

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