6 August 2010


After obtaining the ratification of the required number of nations (30) the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) came into effect on August 1st. Currently 38 countries have ratified the convention and 108 have signed it. (A signature demonstrates in-principle support for a treaty while ratification requires its incorporation into domestic law).

The CCM is an international treaty that bans the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster munitions - weapons that release explosive fragments when dropped from the air, covering swaths of land with cluster munitions, sometimes known as "bomblets". Many of these dangerous items fail to explode on impact, which means that they continue to pose a threat of death or injury to civilians long after the conflict is over. For years, land is unusable for infrastructure rebuilding or farming. Even worse, these brightly colored munitions look like toys to children, who can be severely injured or killed when they handle them.

Cluster munitions were heavily used in Laos, Cambodia, Sudan, Lebanon, and Iraq, where contamination still affects daily life in countless communities.

Countries such as the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Ireland have signed and ratified the treaty, Australia has signed but not ratified and the United states has not signed the treaty.

Currently Australia's ANZ bank is being pressured to stop financing companies that produce the munitions in a campaign supported by the Uniting Church (among other groups). ANZ provides credit to the US company, Lockheed Martin, which has produced cluster munitions, and a company that makes fuses used in the bombs. The action is part of a broader international Stop Explosive Investments campaign.

More information about the issues surrounding cluster munitions can be found at the Cluster Munition Coalition website.

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