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Cluster bombs: all eyes on Wellington as Oxfam calls for strongest possible ban

Oxfam New Zealand has called on the government to do its utmost to secure a strong global ban on cluster munitions when it convenes a major diplomatic conference on the weapon in Wellington next February.

“The eyes of the international community are now turning to New Zealand as the host of the next meeting in the process to establish the global treaty tackling cluster munitions,” said Mary Wareham of Oxfam New Zealand, Coordinator of the Aotearoa New Zealand Cluster Munition Coalition. “Our reputation is on the line here. It is absolutely critical that the New Zealand government host a successful meeting to build the groundwork for a treaty that covers all cluster munitions, including the so-called self-destructing clusters.”

Government and civil society representatives will convene in New Zealand from 18-22 February 2008 for the Wellington Conference on Cluster Munitions, to be held at Town Hall and organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The Wellington Conference follows a three-day meeting in Vienna that concludes today (Friday, 7 December). Representatives from more than 120 governments and over 140 civil society members from around 50 countries met in Vienna to discuss the draft treaty text, which is expected to cover the prohibitions on use, production, transfer and stockpiling of cluster munitions, as well as provisions for the clearance of cluster munition strike sites and assistance to victims of the weapon. The most contentious discussions revolved around the scope of the proposed prohibition, as well as the definition of a cluster munition.

“In course of the past year, the number of countries supporting a ban on cluster munitions has risen from a handful to two-thirds of the world’s nations,” said Wareham. “The tide is clearly turning against cluster munitions.

“We are confident a ban treaty will be concluded in 2008, but the true test will be in the strength of the text that is agreed and the number of governments that sign up. We are calling on the New Zealand government to do its utmost, including at the Wellington Conference, to craft a strong treaty that outlaws this morally reprehensible weapon.”

  • Oxfam New Zealand coordinates the Aotearoa New Zealand Cluster Munition Coalition, a national network of non-governmental groups established in March 2007 to support the global campaign against cluster munitions. See: www.stopclusterbombs.org.nz
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