[JURIST] The Austrian Parliament [official website, in German] passed legislation setting a complete ban on cluster munitions [FAS backgrounder] Thursday, and making a disarmament goal to destroy Austria's stockpile of approximately 10,000 devices over three years. Austria is the second country to ban cluster munitions. In 2006, Belgium banned the manufacture and use of cluster munitions [JURIST report] and criminalized the investment and financing of cluster munition manufacturers. At least 34 countries have produced more than 200 types of cluster munitions, while at least 23 countries have used cluster munitions.
In November, representatives from 102 state parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons [PDF text] agreed to a new pact [JURIST report] regarding "the humanitarian impact of cluster munitions", but failed to agree on a complete ban. The US has said that 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], while the United States, Russia, Israel and China chose not to attend the conference. The International Herald Tribune has more.