Without U.S., cluster bomb ban gains

Sept. 19, 2011 at 12:17 PM
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BEIRUT, Lebanon, Sept. 19 (UPI) -- Even without the United States and other major military powers, an international movement to ban cluster bombs is gaining momentum, Human Rights Watch said.

The second meeting of state parties to the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions wrapped up a weeklong conference Friday in Beirut. More than 130 governments, including 40 that hadn't joined the convention, attended the meetings.

The Beirut Declaration, adopted at last week's conference, said state parties to the cluster munitions convention are "compelled" to rid the world of cluster munitions.

"The United States and other nations should join them," Steve Goose, director of the arms division at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement. "Every cluster munition destroyed represents future lives saved."

U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., in March joined other lawmakers calling for restrictions in cluster munitions.

Feinstein said cluster bombs with high rates of failure have a "terrible toll" on human lives because many unexploded ordnance turn into de facto land mines, leaving affected land unusable.

Cluster bombs break up over a target and disperse hundreds of tiny bomblets over a widespread area. The senators' measure called on the U.S. president to report to Congress on plans to clean up unexploded cluster bombs but has provisions waiving any prohibitions if national security interests are at stake.

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