Ban on cluster bombs adopted by 111 countries

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Friday, May 30, 2008

Today, representatives of 111 countries have adopted a formal ban on cluster bombs. The ban is to be signed and ratified by each country during December 2-3 in Oslo, Norway, the country that initiated the discussions on the ban.

Following almost two weeks of negotiations, the ban was agreed upon at a ceremony held in Dublin, Ireland. Signatories will be required to completely get rid of cluster bomb stockpiles within eight years.

Cluster bombs are characterized by the small "bomblets" that they release while falling. Many are opposed to this type of munition because the "bomblets" spread over a large area, meaning that they can easily injure or kill innocent civilians even when aimed at a specific enemy target.

Despite U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon voicing his hopes that all nations would agree to the ban, many countries have boycotted the ban, including the United States, Russia, Israel, Pakistan and India. Military analyst Marc Garlasco of the organization Human Rights Watch noted that these nations will be less likely to use the munitions due to the stigma that will be attached to them.

While widely celebrated, some criticize the pact for not being strong enough in its implications. For example, signatories will still be allowed to cooperate on military operations with non-signatories.

The ban will go into effect in mid-2009.


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