Milestone First Meeting Concludes in Laos
November 14, 2010
This meeting has laid the kind of solid foundation nations need to get rid of cluster bombs once and for all.
Steve Goose, director of the Arms Division at Human Rights Watch and co-chair of the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC)
(Vientiane) - Nations that have joined the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions approved a bold and comprehensive action plan to eradicate cluster bombs as they concluded their first meeting. The Vientiane Declaration and Action Plan were agreed on November 12, 2010, at the meeting in Laos, which is heavily contaminated by cluster munitions.

"This meeting has laid the kind of solid foundation nations need to get rid of cluster bombs once and for all," said Steve Goose, director of the Arms Division at Human Rights Watch and co-chair of the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC). "The countries that took part in this meeting made it clear they understand how important and urgent it is to help countries affected by these weapons get rid of them."

Under the Vientiane Declaration, the nations agree to condemn any use of cluster munitions, accelerate progress on clearing cluster bombs and destroying stockpiles, expand the coverage of services for victims and survivors, and increase resources for these efforts. The Declaration says that the Convention on Cluster Munitions "sets a new standard by which states will be judged. We believe the sea change in the opinion of governments around the world towards this weapon will continue."

At the meeting, states parties formally agreed to an offer by Lebanon to be the host of the Second Meeting of States Parties in Beirut, from September 12 to 16, 2011.

A total of 121 governments attended the first meeting: 40 States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, 47 signatories that still need to ratify, and 34 nations that have not yet joined.

Major announcements at the meeting included Austria's confirmation that it has finished destroying its stockpiled cluster munitions, the eighth nation to do so. Australia, Belgium, Luxembourg, New Zealand, and Switzerland announced commitments to provide funds for clearance and/or victim assistance. Many signatories said they would complete their ratification process soon.
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