The top United Nations official in Lebanon today welcomed the decision of the country’s Parliament to approve the ratification of the international convention prohibiting the manufacture, use and stockpiling of cluster munitions.
Michael Williams, UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, described yesterday’s decision by Parliament as “a very important signal of Lebanon’s commitment to international law and will reinforce the international will to ban these deadly devices.”
The treaty entered into force at the start of this month, just after two years after the so-called Oslo Convention was first adopted by 107 countries.
Lebanon – whose territory is still marked by cluster munitions – becomes one of 39 States which have ratified the convention, while another 108 countries have signed it.
Billions of cluster munitions are believed to exist around the world and many have been used in recent conflicts, killing or maiming countless civilians.
First used in the Second World War, cluster munitions contain dozens of smaller explosives designed to disperse over an area the size of several football fields, but often fail to detonate upon impact, creating large de facto minefields.
The failure rate makes these weapons particularly dangerous for civilians, who continue to be maimed or killed for years after conflicts end. Some 98 per cent of victims are civilians and cluster bombs have claimed over 10,000 civilian lives, 40 per cent of whom are children.
Recovery from conflict is also hampered because the munitions place roads and lands off-limits to farmers and aid workers.
In his message today Mr. Williams called on international donors to step up assistance to Lebanese mine action projects to clear the country of the remaining cluster bombs on its territory.