LEBANON: Meeting bolsters cluster munitions convention
Since 2006, cluster munitions have killed or injured 408 Lebanese civilians, 115 of whom were children, Maj Pierre Bou Maroun, chief of the Lebanese Armed Forces Regional Mine Action Centre (RMAC) in Nabatiyeh, told IRIN on the sidelines of the second meeting of states parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions which ended on 16 September.
RMAC coordinates all demining operations in the country.
Speaking at the meeting, Lebanese President Michel Sleiman called cluster munitions a “despicable weapon” designed to “sustain programmed killing and handicapping” long into the future. He said the Lebanese state was “fully committed” to the Convention, “particularly when it comes to assisting victims of cluster munitions and ridding its territory” of the weapons.
The meeting brought together representatives from over 115 governments, the UN, civil society organizations and cluster munitions survivors to discuss how to advance the Convention’s key obligations.
“Governments need to demonstrate that they are acting with the urgency and comprehensiveness that they have promised in eliminating cluster munitions and addressing the effects these inhumane weapons have on civilians all over the world,” said Steve Goose, chair of the Cluster Munitions Coalition (CMC) and director of the Arms Division at Human Rights Watch.
Lebanon and Tunisia are the only Arab states to have ratified the Convention. Iraq has signed but not yet ratified.
According to the CMC, Iraq and Lebanon are the worst-affected countries in the Middle East/North Africa region, but Libya is the most recently contaminated country, following use of cluster munitions by forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi earlier this year.
The Beirut meeting heard that as a result of the Convention, around 50 percent of the world’s cluster munitions have been destroyed. In Lebanon, the CMC said, around 66 percent of contaminated land has been cleared and returned to residents.
Goose said that while the success was impressive, some 80 countries had still not signed the Convention, including some of the world’s biggest manufacturers, users or stockpilers of cluster munitions, such as Israel, the US, China, Russia, Pakistan and India
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