THE Irish Red Cross has welcomed the historic signing in Dublin of a humanitarian treaty to ban the use of cluster bombs, which was supported by more than 100 countries, but not the Unites States, Russia or China.
John Roycroft, secretary general of the Irish Red Cross, said the humanitarian commitment by all the delegates attending the Dublin conference was hugely significant.
He praised the initiative of the Irish Government in hosting the multi-national conference, which paved the way towards “a new, historic treaty that bans the use of cluster munitions”.
The draft treaty, which came after 10 days of tough negotiations in Dublin, also calls for the destruction of cluster bomb stockpiles within eight years.
Last evening’s breakthrough on the treaty followed agreement on two key sticking points. Countries that outlaw cluster bombs may continue to cooperate militarily with non-signatory nations and a future generation of smaller cluster bombs, that pick targets more precisely and contain self-destruct technology, are not covered by the treaty.
The initiative is seen as a significant victory for the global humanitarian cause despite the fact that the biggest makers and users of cluster bombs, the US, Russia, China, Israel, India and Pakistan, did not attend the conference nor sign the treaty.
Foreign Affairs Minister Michéal Martin last night welcomed the successful conclusion of the negotiations on the treaty.
Mr Martin said: “This is a very strong and ambitious text which nevertheless was able to win consensus among all delegations.
“It is a real contribution to international humanitarian law.
“I am proud that Ireland has been able to play a central part in its adoption.”
Campaigners against the use of cluster bombs declared last evening’s historic announcement as a triumph.
Simon Conway, co-chair of the Cluster Munitions Coalition, said: “It’s a combination of years of work and we are extremely happy.
“We think this will make a huge difference to people around the world and it will save many lives and limbs.”
Mr Conway said the Irish Government produced a draft treaty text early on Tuesday and and the states came together last night and pushed it through without any changes.
“We got a very strong treaty,” he said.
“It’s very strong on victim assistance, it’s very strong on obligations to clear contaminated land and it’s a very strong prohibition that we’re extremely happy with.”
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