NZ Welcomes Global Ban on Cluster Bombs

  • Georgina te Heuheu
Disarmament and Arms Control

Disarmament Minister Georgina te Heuheu says this Sunday marks a significant milestone in the international disarmament calendar with the international treaty banning cluster bombs coming into force.

"The 1st of August is a landmark day in the global fight to ban cluster munitions and New Zealanders should be proud of the leading role their country has had in bringing this ban about," Mrs te Heuheu said.

"This treaty has, for the first time, forged solid international commitments to cease production and use of these weapons and to destroy stockpiles.

"I call on all states to ensure this significant Convention is fully implemented and urge those States which have not signed it to ratify it as soon as possible," Mrs te Heuheu said.

Cluster bombs contain up to hundreds of sub-munitions in each shell, delivered either by aircraft or artillery. Used in numerous wars, cluster weapons have demonstrated a high failure rate on impact, leaving millions of unexploded sub munitions on the ground long after hostilities cease.

"Many thousands of civilians are injured or killed in the course of normal daily activities by these weapons. Particularly tragic is the fact that around one third of cluster munitions casualties are children," Mrs te Heuheu said.

Under the treaty, New Zealand commits not to acquire, use or stockpile cluster weapons and to encourage other countries to do likewise. Countries that are parties to the treaty and have been bombed with cluster munitions may seek assistance to clear affected areas and assist victims.

Thirty six states are known to be affected by cluster munitions and eighty five states are stockpiling them. Currently worldwide stocks are estimated at amount 860 million sub munitions.

The New Zealand Defence Force has a long history of involvement in munitions clearance operations around the world, most recently in southern Lebanon.

New Zealand will participate in the first meeting of States Parties to the Convention, to be held in Laos in November this year.