Germany ratifies cluster bomb treaty
Germany's ratification of the Convention on Cluster Munitions will make it the 11th country out of 98 signatories to complete the process.Berlin -- Germany has ratified a 2008 agreement banning cluster bombs and destroying stockpiles that has been spurned by the United States and other powers, a senior government official said on Thursday.
"Today I have the pleasure to announce that Germany has finished its ratification process," Gernot Erler, deputy foreign minister, said at the start of a two-day international conference in Berlin.
Germany's ratification of the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) will be passed to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon within days, making it the 11th country out of 98 signatories to complete the process.
Once 30 have done so -- as campaigners hope they will by the end of 2009 -- the treaty comes into force, giving signatories eight years to destroy their stockpiles of cluster munitions.
"We strongly hope that this number will be reached soon," Erler said.
A cluster bomb is a weapon fired by artillery or dropped by aircraft that splits open and scatters multiple -- often hundreds -- of smaller submunitions, or bomblets, over a large area.
Often many of these bomblets fail to explode immediately and can lie dormant for many years, killing and maiming civilians -- many of them children -- long after the original conflict is over.
Most recently they were deployed by both sides in Georgia's war with Russia in 2008, rights groups say, in Israel's bombardment of southern Lebanon in 2006, and by the US and allies in Iraq in 2003 and in Afghanistan in 2001-02.
The US has argued that destroying its stockpiles would put the lives of its soldiers and those of its coalition partners at risk, and that cluster bombs often result in less collateral damage than bigger bombs or larger artillery.
Other notable non-signatories to the CCM include China, Russia, Israel, India, Pakistan, South Korea and North Korea, as well as Turkey, Georgia, Iran, Libya, Syria, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan and Sri Lanka.