[JURIST] A week-long meeting of parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) [PDF text] concluded Tuesday without delegates reaching an agreement on a legally binding ban on cluster munitions [FAS backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. Representatives from 102 nations did agree to negotiate a new pact regarding "the humanitarian impact of cluster munitions," but failed to agree on a complete ban. Frustrated by the "weak" conclusion, Human Rights Watch official Steve Goose said that support for the so-called "Oslo Process" [conference materials; JURIST report] is the best hope for a ban on cluster munitions in 2008. AP has more.
Cluster munitions have been used by at least 23 countries; at least 34 nations have produced more than 200 different types of cluster munitions. In June, the US said it will not support a cluster munitions ban [JURIST report] but that it is open to negotiations to reduce the humanitarian impact by requiring the increased reliability, accuracy and visibility of unexploded munitions. In February, 46 of 49 countries participating in the two-day Oslo Conference on Cluster Munitions agreed to an action plan to develop a new international treaty [press release] to ban the use of cluster munitions by 2008. Romania, Poland and Japan refused to sign the Oslo Declaration [PDF text]. The United States, Russia, Israel, and China chose not to attend the conference. Cluster munitions are considered by many to be inaccurate weapons designed to spread damage indiscriminately and could therefore be considered illegal [CMC backgrounder] under multiple provisions of Protocol I [text] of the Geneva Conventions [ICRC materials].