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US will not attend Dublin meeting to draft cluster bomb ban

[JURIST] The US will not attend a scheduled meeting in Dublin [official website] to draft a legally binding ban on cluster bombs [ICRC materials; JURIST news archive] in May, US State Department officials told reporters Friday. The US will instead attend United Nations talks in Geneva intended to restrict the use of the munitions, but not ban them outright. In June 2007, 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. 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. Last 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; JURIST report] 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. In February, delegates met again in for further talks at a conference in New Zealand [JURIST report]; delegates failed to agree on a ban but most signed the Wellington Declaration [PDF text], acknowledging that cluster bombs should be banned and pledging to continue talks toward that end at the May conference in Dublin. 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].

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