Statement by the Cluster Munition Coalition Closing Ceremony, Dublin Diplomatic Conference on Cluster Munitions Friday 30 May 2008 Grethe Østern, Norwegian Peoples Aid and Co-Chair of CMC Dear Ministers, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, fellow campaigners, Hopefully, many of you have seen the disturbing photo in the exhibition outside of five serious little children standing next to each other, two girls and three boys from 2 to 10 years old. They survived a cluster bomblet accident where four other boys were killed. The photo was taken on the very spot in a village in Lao where the accident happened on 17 January this year, approximately 50 meters from their homes. The children had gathered round a curious metal ball they had found - a bomblet from a cluster bomb. When they disturbed it, it exploded. Hearing the explosion, their parents ran to find three boys killed, one boy dying, and five other screaming children with fragmentation injuries. The 2 year old survived because he was on the back of his bigger brother, who died. When we visited these families just after the Wellington conference they took us to the place where the accident happened. One of the grandmothers sat there - wailing - digging with her hands in the dry soil in the detonation hole. Steel ballbearings were still left in the hole, testifying to the fact that it was a BLU 26/B bomblet that had caused this tragedy, perhaps as many as 40 years after it was dispersed from a cluster bomb. So: Four decades after this old woman had experienced the indiscriminate effects that cluster bombs caused during attacks, she experienced the indiscriminate effects that the very same cluster bombs continue to cause after the attacks. I can think of no more appropriate example than this one to explain why cluster munitions are wrong, why it is right to ban them, and why it was imperative that all delegations here in Dublin in the end laid their differences aside and collectively ensured a consensus solution. We in the CMC are deeply grateful to each and every state representative here today for your efforts to secure this result. You should be very proud. As should the many civil society representatives from around the world that have engaged you in challenging dialogue throughout the Oslo Process and here in Dublin. Together we have indeed made it happen. Isn’t it amazing that in concrete terms, the Convention we have adopted today - as well as the stigma that will follow in its wake - will in the future mean that cluster munitions with billions of submunitions will NOT be used, and thus tens of millions of duds will NOT contaminate our land, and thus innumerable and unnamed children and adults will NOT be maimed or killed. In terms of numbers of lives potentially saved in fact, the Convention on Cluster Munitions could be of even greater significance than the Mine Ban Treaty, because of the enormous volume of the stockpiles it affects. I can therefore only imagine what they must be feeling now, the people in this room who themselves are survivors of cluster munitions. They have worked tirelessly towards this day, and we admire them and thank them. A great debt of gratitude is also owed to Norway and particularly Ambassador Steffen Kongstad for their vision and leadership in launching this endeavor, and to Ireland and President O’ Ceallaigh for delivering its successful conclusion, as well as to all the countries that have hosted meetings and shown unwavering commitment to the process throughout. The CMC challenges EVERY country in the world to come to Oslo this December to sign the Convention on Cluster Munitions and to ratify as soon as possible. In particular we hope countries affected by cluster munitions will be among the first States to sign and ratify. CMC campaigners have in between lobbying over the past two weeks also worked out an action plan for rapid entry into force of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. When they return home from Dublin they will set out on this second part of their mission, and I can assure you they will do so with great determination. I now invite a man who is particularly determined to see all this through, Branislav Kapetanovic – a former soldier and deminer and a cluster munition survivor - to come to the podium and on behalf of the CMC hand over our Action Plan for Rapid Entry into Force of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, to Norway’s Deputy Minister of Defence Espen Barth Eide.
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