LONDON, Aug. 1 (UPI) -- A worldwide ban on cluster bombs took effect Sunday and was called a major step in ridding the world of a "cruel and unjust weapon" by its advocates.
"Campaigners around the world are celebrating a triumph of humanitarian values over a cruel and unjust weapon," said Thomas Nash of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, CMC. "At a time when concern over civilian deaths in conflict is in the news, this treaty stands out as a clear example of what governments must do to protect civilians."
Cluster weapons are bombs, usually dropped from planes, that are filled with smaller anti-personnel bombs, which are scattered over wide areas. The weapons are considered particularly onerous because the smaller bombs can wind up in civilian areas or fail to explode until jostled by a person.
The CMC said in a written statement that the convention had been signed by 107 nations and ratified by 37. A few of the signatories have dismantled their stockpiles of the weapons.
In addition to reducing the number of cluster bombs, the convention also commits nations to clearing old battlefields where unexploded ordinance remains a threat, and helping people who were injured by the bombs.