20110501 Cluster munitions coalition Australia

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20110501 Cluster munitions coalition Australia

Cluster munitions are a large cause of death and disability in developing countries. Many submunitions (approximately 30%) fail to detonate on impact and continue affecting people long after a conflict has ended. 98% of victims of unexploded submunitions are civilians. Cluster munitions affect broad areas, lack accuracy and their size and shape make them attractive to children.

More than two dozen countries have been affected by the use of cluster munitions including Afghanistan, Albania, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Chad, Croatia, DR Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Georgia, Grenada, Iraq, Israel, Kuwait, Laos, Lebanon, Montenegro, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Uganda, and Vietnam, as well as Chechnya, Falkland/Malvinas, Nagorno-Karabakh, and Western Sahara.

A proposed Bill (the Criminal Code Amendment (Cluster Munitions Prohibition) Bill 2010) to meet Australia’s obligations under the Convention on Cluster Munitions is about to be debated in the Senate.

However, this Bill falls significantly short of meeting the purpose of the Convention on Cluster Munitions – ‘to put an end for all time to the suffering and casualties caused by cluster munitions at the time of their use, when they fail to function as intended or when they are abandoned’.