Civil Society in Sierra Leone will today join more than 20 countries around the world to call on all governments to adopt immediate national moratoria on the use, trade and production of cluster munitions.
They will also participate in diplomatic discussions on a new international ban treaty in Vienna in one month’s time.
In that regard, SLANSA, in collaboration with the Cluster Munitions Coalition, call on the government of Sierra Leone to recognize the horrendous negative impact cluster bombs pose, especially to civilians, during and after armed conflicts.
“We also urge government to emulate the noble example of states which have already declared support for the Oslo Process and to demonstrate their support by participating in the Vienna conference of states next month to map out a way forward for a legally binding treaty to ban cluster bombs by 2008,” SLANSA stated.
The anti-gun campaigners wish to underscore the need for the government of Sierra Leone to join other likeminded states, not least in Africa, in supporting the Oslo Process.
In that regard, since Sierra Leone is regarded as an affected state, albeit not adversely, “we challenge government to demonstrate its constitutional and social responsibility in ensuring the protection and security of its people at all times. The number of countries taking part in the first ever global day of action to ban cluster bombs is a sign of the public’s commitment to achieving a new treaty.
`It is the public, particularly in countries affected by these horrendous weapons, that is driving this process, we will not stop until a ban treaty is signed next year,” said Thomas Nash, coordinator of the Cluster Munitions Coalition (CMC).
Today also marks an unprecedented joint appeal by the United Nations, CMC, and UK-based Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund in support of the ban treaty with an advertising campaign featured in several newspapers worldwide. The UN is calling on all countries to freeze the use and trade of cluster bombs and negotiate an international prohibition on cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm to civilians. The Cluster Munitions Coalition urges all governments to act on this appeal.
The advert shows that as a precaution certain toys have been removed from the market because of the risk they pose to children. In some cases they have not caused any injury, but preventative measures have been taken. This is in stark contrast to cluster bombs, which are known to have killed and injured thousands of children worldwide – largely as a result of their colourful and intriguing shapes which attract children — but are still available on the international market for potential future use.
Although public opposition to cluster munitions has existed for over 30 years, global public awareness intensified in 2006 after Belgium banned the weapon, Norway introduced a moratorium and the use of the weapon in southern Lebanon demonstrated beyond any doubt the urgent need for an international ban.
As the international non-governmental Cluster Munitions Coalition stepped up its calls for a new treaty, many states responded joining a Norwegian-led initiative to conclude a new ban treaty in 2008, a process now known as the Oslo Process.