With dozens of countries having cluster munitions in their arsenals, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan called on a Geneva meeting considering excessively injurious conventional weapons to put the issues of cluster munitions on their agenda for next year.
"I am pleased to note that you are examining ways to strengthen the implementation of international humanitarian law to address the humanitarian and development impact of submunitions," he said in a message to the two-day annual meeting of the States Parties to the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects.
"The issue of cluster munitions continues to be a topic of particular importance in this regard. These are estimated to be in the arsenals of more than 70 countries; they often claim the lives of civilians and they impede socio-economic development long after conflict has ended."
Until the measures are agreed, he urged all States to respect the existing, applicable humanitarian law on the use of cluster munitions and "to place the range of issues related to cluster munitions on your 2006 agenda."
"Experience with this Convention shows that progress is possible, that a legal instrument can evolve to respond appropriately to a new security situation, and that multilateral disarmament and arms control processes can have a positive impact on human security," Mr. Annan said.