International ban on cluster bombs "very close" says British Prime Minister

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said that an international treaty aimed at banning the use of cluster bombs is "very close" to being achieved. It is hoped that many other countries, whether present at the talks or not, such as the United States and Canada, will sign up to the treaty.

An American B-1b Lancer drops cluster bombs.
Image: U.S. Air Force.

Cluster bombs have been used in countries such as Cambodia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Lebanon. More than 100 countries and multiple humanitarian organisations have supported a ban on their use, as they can remain dangerous for many years after being dropped and can cause "unacceptable harm to civilians".

Brown's comments come after ten days of talks in Dublin between 109 nations, but countries such as the United States, Russia and China oppose the treaty. A final draft is due to be shown to delegates at a talk this afternoon and could result in a deal "by the end of the week, possibly sooner" according the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

The move by Brown would mean that the entire stockpile of cluster bombs owned by the UK would be scrapped, costing taxpayers millions. While many countries such as Britain, Germany, Japan and Switzerland have asked for 7 to 15 years to fully implement the rules, many humanitarian organisations have criticised this suggestion.


  Learn more about Cluster bomb and Cluster Munition Coalition on Wikipedia.