Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro arrived today in Vientiane, Laos, ahead of a global meeting on the outlawing of cluster munitions, the first stop on a three-nation tour that will also take the senior United Nations official to Lebanon and Ethiopia.
Ms. Migiro will represent Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the First Meeting of States Parties to the Convention of Cluster Munitions, which begins on Tuesday and brings together delegates to discuss the operation and implementation of the pact, which prohibits the use, production and trade in cluster munitions.
The Convention entered into force on 1 August 2010 and has already gained the signatures of 108 States, with 46 of those countries having also ratified it.
Cluster munitions contain dozens of smaller explosives designed to disperse over an area the size of a football field, but often fail to detonate upon impact, creating large de facto minefields. By the end of 2009, 16,816 cluster munitions casualties were recorded, but due to significant under-reporting, the actual number of casualties might be as high as 85,000 worldwide.
The meeting takes place in Laos because of the particular prevalence of the munitions in the country. An estimated 37 per cent of the country’s territory remains contaminated three decades after the end of war in the South-east Asian nation, and an average of 300 Laotians are killed each year as a result of cluster munitions – half the annual global total.
Ms. Migiro will then travel to Beirut, Lebanon, on 11 November to chair the 14th Regional Coordination Mechanism for Arab States and meet government officials and UN staff in the region.
Then she will head to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 14 November to chair the 11th Session of the Regional Coordination Mechanism of UN agencies and organizations working in Africa in support of the African Union, before returning to New York on 16 November.