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Over 800 participants, representing more than 120 countries and civil society campaigners, arrived in Beirut to partake in the Second Meeting of States Parties (2 MSP) to the Convention on Cluster Munitions. The conference commenced on Sep. 13 after H.E Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants of the Lebanese Republic Adnan Mansour was elected as President of the 2MSP, and was composed of 8 plenary meetings.
Lebanon hosted the conference because it is a strong witness to the devastating effects of cluster munitions that were dropped by the Israelis in the 2006 war. According to the United Nations, Israel fired more than four million cluster bombs over South Lebanon during the last 72 hours of the war. Of those, up to one million cluster munitions failed to explode and continue to pose a deadly threat to civilians to this day. Since the ceasefire on 14 August, 2006, more than 400 people have been killed or injured by cluster munitions. Of those casualties, 90 percent were civilians — one-third being children.
Lebanon’s experience was a significant milestone in the movement to ban cluster munitions. The Israeli use of cluster munitions in Southern Lebanon in 2006 triggered the “Oslo Process,” which resulted in the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions.
According to the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs: “The Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) prohibits all use, stockpiling, production and transfer of Cluster Munitions.”
Over the course of four days, delegates of both signatory and non-signatory states came to discuss several key points regarding the convention: universalization of the convention, destruction of stock piles and storages, clearance of contaminated lands, and victim assistance.
During the meeting, countries explained their progress with regards to their commitment to the treaty obligations. According the Cluster Munitions Coalition (CMC) the most important statements at the conference were:
• Slovenia’s announcement that it has fully destroyed its stockpile of cluster munitions under the eight year deadline.
• Colombia expressing that with its first participation in the conference (it was an observer in the 1MSP), it has cleared its cluster munitions stockpiles and is ready to help other countries.
• The UK and Germany announcing that they have destroyed over 60% of their stockpiles.
• The UK announcing that it will raise its 30 million GBP fund dedicated to clearing cluster munitions, and Germany donating 700,000 Euros to Lebanon in 2012 for clearance of contaminated lands.
• Swaziland’s assent to become the 63rd state to ratify the convention.
• States pledging to increase their victim assistance programs.
• Seven countries announcing that steps towards ratifying the convention will be completed soon.
Most notably, several victims of cluster bombs or their family members attended the program and presented the “Victim’s Declaration” in which they expressed their happiness over the progress made towards riding the world of cluster munitions. They also urged governments to commit to their obligations towards the conventions and asked “to take immediate action to make victim assistance services accessible for all” in accordance to the 1st meeting of State Parties in Vientiane.
On the final day, state parties adopted the “Beirut Declaration” which acknowledged the progress the convention has made in such a short time towards freeing the world from cluster munitions. Furthermore, states agreed that more has to be done with regards to stockpiling, the clearing of contaminated lands, and victim assistance.