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$500,000 contribution by Ireland implementing the Convention on Cluster Munitions

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Micheál Martin T.D., and the Minister of State for Development Cooperation, Mr Peter Power T.D., today announced a contribution of $500,000 to support the first Meeting of States Parties of the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) in Vientiane in November 2010 and to fund unexploded ordnance (UXO) activities in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. The CCM, which was adopted at the Dublin Diplomatic Conference two years ago, will enter into force on 1 August next.

This contribution is a further demonstration of Ireland’s commitment to the Convention to eradicating this appalling weapon. The first Meeting of States Parties will promote work under the Convention on areas including victim assistance, clearance and stockpile destruction. It will give a boost to efforts to universalise the Convention, as many countries in the process of ratification will be present as observers. The meeting will also see a continuation of the partnership with civil society which played a vital role in the establishment of the Convention.

Ireland is supporting preparations for the first Meeting of States Parties in a number of other ways and continues to promote the universalisation of the Convention. Ireland will be represented at senior level at a global preparatory meeting in Chile next week and has already seconded one staff member to the support unit in Vientiane. Ireland played a pivotal role in the agreement of the Convention in Dublin two years ago and will continue to provide political and financial support to this important initiative.

The Ministers urge those countries not already party to the Convention to join efforts to ban cluster munitions and to send representatives to observe the first Meeting of States Parties.

Lao PDR is the most bombed country in the world, with most un-exploded ordinance found being cluster munitions. Since 2006 Irish Aid has provided €4.12 million for the clearance of landmines and other explosive devices there, mainly through the national de-mining body. This commitment will enable us build on our current efforts to help the Lao PDR deal with its explosive remnants of war problem.

Note for the Editor

The UNDP administered Lao PDR Cluster Munitions Trust Fund will support the holding of the first Meeting of States Parties of the CCM in Vientiane from 9-12 November. It will also fund UXO activities in Lao PDR including stockpile destruction; survey operations; needs assessment and prioritisation; protection of civilian populations; clearance and destruction of cluster munitions; risk reduction education; survivor/victim assistance; and coordination of international cooperation.

A cluster munition is a conventional munition that is designed to disperse or release explosive submunitions, each weighing less than 20 kilograms. Many such submunitions fail to go off, causing continuing casualties long after conflicts have ended. Cluster Munitions have been used since World War II, most extensively in Lao PDR and Cambodia during the 1960s but also more recently in such countries as Lebanon and Iraq.

The heart of the Convention is an immediate and unconditional ban on the use, development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, retention or transfer of all cluster munitions which cause unacceptable harm to civilians. Currently 106 countries have signed and 36 countries have ratified the Convention.