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Cluster munitions treaty to take effect August 1 after 30 countries ratify

[JURIST] The UN announced [press release] on Tuesday that the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) [text; official website] will enter into force on August 1 after being ratified by 30 countries. Burkina Faso and Moldova both submitted their instruments of ratification [UN News Centre report] Tuesday, becoming the 29th and 30th countries to do so. In a statement, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that "the Convention's entry into force just two years after its adoption demonstrates the world's collective revulsion at the impact of these terrible weapons." Several major users of cluster munitions, including the US, Russia, China, Israel, India, and Pakistan, have not adopted the convention, arguing that cluster bombs serve legitimate military purposes [AP report]. Ban urged "all States to become a party to the Convention without delay."

The CCM opened for signature [JURIST report] in December 2008 at a conference in Oslo, Norway. More than 100 countries adopted the convention [JURIST report] in May 2008 at a meeting in Dublin, Ireland. Strong supporters of the ban include the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Canada, Japan, Mexico, and Australia. Although the US did not adopt the ban, claiming it would impede humanitarian efforts [JURIST report] by discouraging cooperation with non-signatories, it did adopt a formal policy [text, PDF] on cluster munitions in June 2008 "intended to minimize the potential unintended harm to civilians and civilian infrastructure." Cluster bombs break apart, releasing large numbers of smaller, self-contained explosives which spread out before detonating upon impact. Their design aims to stop large-scale troop movements by maximizing bodily injury over a wide area. Bombs that fail to detonate can present a serious hazard for civilian populations.

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