The Sierra Leone Action Network on Small Arms (SLANSA), in collaboration with Cluster Monition Coalition (CMC), yesterday observed the Global Day of Action to Ban Cluster Bombs.
Mohamed Sheriff, the SLANSA Project Officer, told journalists that the Global campaign was being coordinated by the Cluster Monition Coalition, a global network of 200 working in 50 countries to end the harm and devastation perpetuated by cluster munitions.
He said, “cluster munitions are unacceptable weapons that have consistently killed and injured large number of civilians for over 40 years of their use”, pointing out that these weapons were fired from the ground or dropped from the air, dispersing hundreds of bomblets or sub-munitions over wide areas and littering the ground with explosives and shrapnel.
Mr Sheriff pointed out that the CMC, in tandem with Norway and other likeminded states together with the UN and ICRC called for an international treaty banning the use, production, and trade and stockpiling of cluster bombs by 2008 in line with the Oslo Declaration.
He said, “states are urged to join the international process declared in Oslo in February this year, known as the Oslo Process which is geared toward a treaty to ban cluster bombs in their entirety”.
And that in a bid to reach this milestone, series of conferences had been planned to enable states to deliberate and reach agreement on a comprehensive and legally binding treaty that took due cognizance of civilian protection. The SLANSA Project Officer revealed that the next international conference was due in Vienna, Austria, from 5-7 December, where it would be expected that states would discuss key elements of a treaty including: victims’ assistance, stockpile destruction, international assistance and cooperation, and the definition of cluster munitions.
He stated that Sierra Leone was yet to declare support for the OSLO Process and as a result join other progressive nations in designing the nature. Mr Sheriff pledged on behalf of his organization that they would continue this campaign, especially in the months leading up to Vienna and hereafter until and unless cluster bombs were banned. The head of the global parliamentary group on Small Arms in Parliament, Hon. Ibrahim Sorie, committed the Sierra Leone’s parliament support for the campaign against small arms.
Philomina Turay, representing the Office of National Security, stated that Sierra Leone would support global efforts to ensure that cluster bombs were banned in the interest of the overall peace and security.