Cluster munitions (also known as cluster bombs) are particularly inhumane weapons: they not only kill and maim indiscriminately during conflicts, but due to their high failure rates also pose a constant threat to the civilian population long after the cessation of hostilities – often for decades.
To end this suffering once and for all, Austria has committed herself actively within the framewoek of the so-called Oslo Process (launched in 2007) towards an international, legally binding ban on cluster munitions. Austria’s leading international role was underlined by the adoption of the strictest national law banning this category of weapons (6 December 2007) and by the organisation of the successful Vienna Conference on Cluster Munitions (5 - 7 December 2007). The Vienna Conference was able to bring the Oslo Process a distinctive step forward through substantial progress in the discussions on a draft text of the planned convention.
On 30 May 2008 the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) was adopted by 107 states at an international conference in Dublin. This Convention ranks as the most important disarmament treaty since the “Ottawa Convention” (1997), and is considered a significant further development of international humanitarian law. The CCM entails a categorical ban on cluster munitions, which cause unacceptable harm to civilians and includes all types of cluster munitions that were used to date. Moreover, new standards for the assistance of victims have been set by the CCM.
94 countries signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 3 December 2008 in Oslo. Austria has signed the Convention during the opening ceremony in Oslo in the presence of a representative of the Austrian parliament and civil society representatives. Following the deposit of the 30th instrument of ratification the CCM has entered into force on 1 August 2010. The first Meeting of the States Parties (MSP) in the framework of the Convention on Cluster Munitions took place in Vientiane/Lao P.D.R. from 9 to 11 November 2010. Austria played a key role during the first MSP as “Friend of the Chair” for victim assistance. The second MSP is scheduled to take place in Lebanon in September 2011.
Austria has successfully promoted the rapid entry into force of the Cluster Munitions Convention as well as its universalization and complete implementation. A number of projects to clear cluster munitions in Lebanon, Jordan or Afghanisatn were co-financed with Austrian funds.