Published on Thursday, June 25, 2009 by Agence
Absent however were the
A Colombian bomb disposal expert gets ready to start the controlled detonation of a cluster bomb. Delegates from over 80 countries pledging to destroy their cluster bombs started a two-day conference in
A cluster bomb is a weapon fired by artillery or dropped by aircraft that splits open and scatters multiple -- often hundreds -- of smaller submunitions, or bomblets, over a large area.
Often many of these bomblets fail to explode immediately and can lie dormant for many years, killing and maiming civilians -- many of them children -- long after the original conflict is over.
First employed by the German Luftwaffe on the English town of Grimsby in 1943 and by the Red Army the same year, their use really took off in the US bombing of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos in the 1960s and 1970s.
Most recently they were deployed by both sides in
They were also put to deadly effect by NATO in
According to a 2006 report by Handicap International, there have been at least 11,000 recorded and confirmed post-conflict casualties and that the actual number -- levels of reporting being low -- may be as high as 100,000.
Around 98 percent of these are civilians, Handicap International says. A quarter of these are children, who often tragically mistake the bomblets for a toy.
Last year around 100 countries, including
Ten countries have since ratified the CCM. Once 30 have done so -- as campaigners hope they will by the end of 2009 -- the treaty comes into force, giving the 98 signatories eight years to destroy their stockpiles.
It also requires clearing areas of unexploded submunitions within 10 years, and establishes a framework for assistance to victims.
Other notable non-signatories include
Thomas Nash from the Cluster Munition Coalition, a coalition of non-governmental organisations, said he hoped the
"Our main focus is to get as many countries to ratify as soon as possible, get more countries to sign on so that we remove the stigma from the treaty," Nash told AFP.
"And that means telling the
© 2009 Agence
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs