Wellington conference to bring cluster munitions solution a step closer

  • Phil Goff
Disarmament and Arms Control

Wellington is gearing up for an important international conference that will bring the world substantially closer to a new treaty on cluster munitions, Disarmament and Arms Control Minister Phil Goff said today.

“This conference, from 18 to 22 February, is a significant undertaking for the New Zealand Government, and underlines our commitment to taking strong action against these weapons,” Mr Goff said.

“New Zealand, in hosting this major event, is making an important contribution to achieving an ambitious vision of a ban on cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm to civilians.

“Long after a conflict has ended civilians continue to bear the deadly legacy of these weapons. Many cluster munitions fail to explode on impact and lie dormant after a conflict has ended until unwittingly stumbled upon, often by children, to devastating effect. The tragic consequences of the legacy of a million unexploded bomblets in Lebanon from the recent war there bears witness to this,” Mr Goff said.

The Wellington Conference has attracted registrations from over 100 states and around 400 delegates, including participants from non government organisations and key international and UN agencies.

“I am particularly encouraged by the high number of registrations from the Pacific and Southeast Asia, including from those states that continue to suffer cluster munitions contamination,” Mr Goff said.

“I am also pleased to see that a large number of states producing and stockpiling cluster munitions intend to participate in Wellington. Their agreement to sign up to a treaty will obviously be important to ensure the maximum practical impact of a legally binding instrument to stop unacceptable harm to civilians,” Mr Goff added.

“One of the outcomes of the Wellington Conference will be a declaration to which states will subscribe prior to formally negotiating the new convention in a Diplomatic Conference in Dublin in May. States will be able to subscribe to the declaration in Wellington, or subsequently in the lead-up to Dublin,” Mr Goff said.

The Wellington Conference is the fourth global conference of the Oslo Process, which aims to conclude a new convention banning cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm to civilians by the end of this year. Previous meetings of the Oslo Process were held in Norway (February 2007), Peru (May 2007) and Austria (December 2007), with regional meetings in Serbia, Costa Rica and Belgium.