Activists and diplomats from around the world are in Dublin, Ireland, this week to try to establish a treaty banning the use of cluster bombs, which they say pose unacceptable risks to civilians.
The United Nations and over 100 countries have pledged their support to the ban, according to news reports, as did Pope Benedict XVI.
The BBC quoted the pontiff as saying, “It is necessary to heal the errors of the past and avoid them happening again in the future. I pray for the victims of the cluster munitions, for their families and for those who will join the conference too, wishing that it will be successful.”
Opposing the ban are some of the world’s leading manufacturers and users of cluster bombs, the United States, Russia, China and Britain.
Cluster munitions scatter thousands of small bombs over a large area.
If some of the bombs fail to explode upon first impact, they can remain in civilian areas, where they may be picked up or accidentally set off.
“Because they are inherently inaccurate and often malfunction, they are particularly indiscriminate and unreliable,” United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the conference in a video statement, according to Reuters.
“Forum seeks to ban cluster bombs”
BBC News, May 19, 2008
“UN calls for cluster bomb ban at global gathering”
Reuters Africa, May 20, 2008