On 12 November 2009, Iraq signed the Cluster Munitions Convention and became the 103rd country to sign the Convention. Defend International, along with other stakeholders, had urged Iraq several times to sign without delay the Convention on Cluster Munitions. “Iraq sent a strong message to the world that cluster bombs are illegitimate weapons of warfare and should not be used anymore,” said DI member from Iraq Mr. Fadhel Abbas.
DI wishes to congratulate its members, as well as its member organisations in Iraq, Iraqi diplomats and other stakeholders who have been engaged in the global effort to ban cluster bombs once and for all.
Iraq Signed Cluster Bomb Ban
Defend International Welcomes Iraq’s Decision
(New York, 16 November 2009) – Defend International welcomes the signing by Ambassador H. E. Hamid Al Bayati, Permanent Representative of Iraq to the United Nations, on 12 November 2009 of the Cluster Munitions Convention. Iraq became the 103rd country to sign the Convention.
The convention on Cluster Munitions is expected to significantly reduce the human cost associated with the use of these terrible weapons. This signature is the latest sign that momentum behind the convention in the MENA region is growing.
Defend International, along with other stakeholders, had urged Iraq several times to sign without delay the Convention on Cluster Munitions  . DI wishes to congratulate its members, as well as its member organisations in Iraq, Iraqi diplomats and other stakeholders who have been engaged in the global effort to ban cluster bombs once and for all.
“This is huge news,” said Dr. Widad, co-foundr of Defend International. “Finally, Iraqi government acknowledged the importance of banning cluster munitions. We are hoping that other countries in the region will follow soon. They need to sign the treaty to become part of the international consensus against this weapon,” she added.
“Iraq sent a strong message to the world that cluster bombs are illegitimate weapons of warfare and should not be used anymore,” said DI member Mr. Fadhel Abbas, Babylon National Human Rights Association based in central Iraq.
“We know these cluster munitions have a failure rate, usually ranging from 5 to 30 per cent,” said DI member Mr. Jamal Hemewendy in Kurdistan region. “The use of cluster munitions in Kurdistan region and Iraq has caused an appalling number of deaths, injuries and human rights abuses.”
More than 32 million submunitions have been dropped in Iraq. A large number of civilians have been injured by unexploded cluster munitions; the majority are children.
“Up to 98% of casualties caused by cluster munitions are civilians,” said Dr. Widad. “Iraq will be able now to receive assistance for clearance of cluster bomb remnants and to help its victims. Survivors of cluster munitions should be treated with humanity and with respect for their inherent dignity.”
As a member of the Cluster Munitions Coalition, Defend International is committed to long term advocacy to promote the cluster munitions convention as a universal norm; to ensure full realisation and effective implementation of the treaty; to undertake systematic monitoring work to help police adherence to the ban and to address the humanitarian impact of cluster bombs.
The Convention on Cluster Munitions prohibits the use, production and transfer of cluster munitions, requires destruction of stockpiled weapons within eight years, clearance of contaminated land within ten years, and assistance to victims. It requires 30 ratifications to trigger entry into force six months later and to date 24 countries have ratified.
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A cluster bomb, or cluster munition, is a weapon containing multiple – often hundreds – of small explosive submunitions, or bomblets. They are dropped from the air or fired from the ground and designed to break open in mid-air, releasing the submunitions over an area that can be the size of several football fields. This means they cannot discriminate between civilians and soldiers. Also, as up top 40 percent fail to explode on impact, they remain a threat for communities decades after they were dropped.
The Cluster Munition Coalition
The CMC is an international coalition of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working in 80 countries to encourage urgent action against cluster bombs. The CMC facilitates the efforts of NGOs worldwide to educate governments, the public and the media about the problems of cluster munitions and the solution through the global treaty banning the weapon. In the MENA region the CMC is represented by Defend International and other local NGOs.