[JURIST] The US delegation [official website] to the Meetings of the Group of Governmental Experts [official website] for the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) [PDF text] said Monday that the United States will not support a ban on the use of cluster munitions [FAS backgrounder; JURIST news archive], but is open to negotiations to reduce the humanitarian impact by requiring the increased reliability, accuracy and visibility of unexploded munitions. The US has also rejected new treaties specifically aimed at cluster munitions, arguing that the CCW Protocol V on Explosive Remnants of War [PDF text] already covers concerns that unexploded cluster munitions may inflict post-conflict casualties on civilians.
In February, a State Department spokesperson said the US rejected an international call [JURIST reports] to ban cluster munitions, telling reporters at a daily press briefing [text; recorded video] that the United States "takes the position that [cluster] munitions do have a place and a use in military inventories." Also in February, 46 of 49 countries participating in the two-day Oslo Conference on Cluster Munitions [conference materials] 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]. Reuters has more.