Bill bans cluster munitions

  • Georgina te Heuheu
Disarmament and Arms Control

A Bill implementing New Zealand's obligations under the Convention on Cluster Munitions today received its Third Reading in Parliament.

The Cluster Munitions Prohibition Bill bans the use, development, production and stockpiling of cluster munitions in this country and by New Zealanders offshore.

Disarmament Minister Georgina te Heuheu said today the passing of the Bill cleared the way for New Zealand to ratify the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

"The Convention is a major step forward in addressing the harm to civilians caused by use of these unreliable and dangerous weapons," Mrs te Heuheu said.

New Zealand played a leading role in the negotiation of the Convention, including hosting a crucial meeting in Wellington in February 2008.

"New Zealand has a profile far above our size or place in the world on disarmament issues and I am extremely proud to continue that tradition with this Bill," Mrs te Heuheu said.

The Convention prohibits the use of cluster munitions that cause unacceptable humanitarian harm. Implementation of the Bill is a key disarmament priority for the Government.

Mrs te Heuheu said she hoped that New Zealand could be among the states that bring the Convention into force.

"We will aim to deposit our ratification with the United Nations as soon as possible," she said.

Twenty-four countries have so far ratified the Convention, with further ratifications imminent. Thirty ratifications are required to bring it into force.  New Zealand signed the Convention at a ceremony in Oslo on 3 December last year.

"Our ratification would mean that New Zealand could participate in the first meeting of states to be held in Laos in 2010. Laos is one of the countries most contaminated by cluster munitions and New Zealand has provided it with assistance in clearing some of those devastating after-effects of war".