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Human rights groups launch anti-cluster bomb campaign
Published in Saudi Press Agency on 29 - 05 - 2009

Human rights groups launched today a "week of action" to try to convince governments to sign and ratify the
international treaty which bans the use, production and stockpiling
of cluster munitions, according to dpa.
The campaign was being launched one year after countries concluded
negotiations on the treaty in Ireland. In December, the treaty was
opened for signatures. Since then, 96 governments signed and seven
have ratified the treaty.
Work has also commenced in several countries on eliminating their
stockpiles of the weapon.
Spain became the first country to destroy its entire stockpile in
March. Other countries were on their way, the Banning Cluster
Munitions report released Friday said. These included Canada,
Colombia and Britain.
Steve Goose, of Human Rights Watch's arms control division, said
he was "optimistic" the United States would eventually join the
He noted that President Barack Obama, when he was in the Senate,
supported some bans on cluster bombs, and also signed into law, after
entering the White House, a permanent ban on exporting the weapon.
Cluster bombs eject sub-munitions over a wide area, making them a
deadly and generally imprecise weapon. Many fail to explode and
effectively turn into landmines scattered across civilian populated
areas. Clearing them can also be an expensive task.
In Afghanistan, for example, Human Rights Watch said 232 strikes
by the US army spread 1,228 cluster bombs, with 248,056 bomblets,
throughout the country in 2001 and 2002. Parts of the country were
also covered by the weapon during the Soviet invasion.
Afghanistan, like Laos and several other countries, remains
heavily affected by cluster munitions.
"Cluster bombs have killed and injured far too many civilians at
the time of attack," said Steve Goose, of Human Rights Watch's arms
control division.
"Even worse, they go on killing days, weeks, months and even
decades later," he added, explaining that after they fail to explode
they can remain for years in the ground or in lakes where people
The coalition said some of the world's biggest users and
stockpilers have not yet signed up to the convention. These include
the US, Russia, China, and North Korea.

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