Beirut, Lebanon, 12 September 2011 – Afghanistan, which has witnessed the devastation cluster munitions cause, has become the 62nd state party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions on the eve of an international conference on the ban.
The Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC), including JRS representatives, which is currently gathered in Beirut, Lebanon for the Second Meeting of States Parties to the Convention, warmly welcomed this news.
Song Kosal, the youth ambassador to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines and a landmine survivor herself, was pleased to hear the news.
“I am so grateful to see that Afghanistan ratified Cluster Bomb Ban,” Kosal said from Phnom Penh. “This is great effort for everyone especially Afghan people, campaigners, their government and victims. I strongly hope that my country, Cambodia, will sign and ratify this convention before the 11MSP (11th Meeting of State Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty) in Phnom Penh.”
Steve Goose, Chair of the CMC, said: “We are delighted Afghanistan has joined the growing list of countries now legally bound to work together to stop the harm being done by this deadly, indiscriminate weapon.”
Cluster munitions were used extensively by Soviet and United States forces in Afghanistan between 1979 and 2002, and at least 745 people have been injured by cluster munitions there since 1980.
Between October 2001 and early 2002 alone, US aircraft dropped 1,228 cluster bombs containing 248,056 submunitions in 232 strikes on locations throughout the country.
Afghan government officials and campaigners will be among delegates from around 120 countries attending the States Parties conference this week.
From Tuesday 13 to Friday 16 September these delegates will be joined by more than 230 campaigners, including three from JRS Cambodia, Thailand and Indonesia, from 66 countries in Beirut – capital of one of the countries most severely contaminated by cluster munitions.
“We’re pleased that Afghanistan is now a State Party to the Convention and hope it will set an example to others by beginning their work to implement their obligations under the treaty straight away,” said Sulaiman Safdar of Afghan Landmine Survivors Organisation (ALSO), a member of the CMC.
JRS has been campaigning against landmines since 1990 and cluster munitions since 2008. JRS was one of the founding organizations of the Thailand Campaign to Band Landmines and a member of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. In 1997 this campaign won the Nobel Peace Prize and Tun Channareth with other JRS advocates to ban landmines accepted the award.
JRS has played a leading role in the campaign and contributed research on Cambodia, Thailand, and Indonesia for the ‘Landmine Monitor’. In addition JRS continues to support landmine survivors in countries such as Bosnia, Cambodia, Thailand, and Kosovo, and actively raises awareness of the issue in these and other landmine-affected countries.