Vienna, 26 January 2007 - "Austria calls for a binding international treaty to effectively counter the disastrous effects of cluster munitions on people to be elaborated as soon as possible" said Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik in connection with the international conference on cluster munitions to be held in Oslo on 22 and 23 February. In a recent letter the Foreign Minister assured her Norwegian counterpart Jonas Gahr Store of Austria’s full support for the Oslo conference.
The war in south Lebanon in summer 2006 highlighted the urgent need for international action to counter cluster munitions. Austria has contributed 400,000 euros to clear explosives and assist victims in Lebanon.
The conference in Oslo will seek to extend the coalition of 28 states and to explore possibilities for elaborating an international legal instrument on cluster munitions as soon as possible.
At the Review Conference of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons in November 2006 Austria played a leading role in establishing a coalition of 28 states including 15 EU Member States that are calling for the start of negotiations on a legally binding instrument on cluster munitions. "We aim at effective regulations to provide better protection for the civilian population. As a first step there is a need above all to ban cluster munitions posing an unacceptably high risk for people. Our long-term objective should be a total ban of these munitions, which even years after the cessation of conflicts kill and maim human beings.", said Plassnik.
Cluster munitions have proved to be particularly atrocious for civilians when used in inhabited areas. The often high rate of unexploded bombs has disastrous effects not only while conflicts are being waged but also after they are over. Isolated non-detonated explosives can have the same effects as anti-personnel mines and contaminate whole areas for decades.
Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Tel.: ++43 (0) 50 1150-3262, 4549, 4550
Fax: ++43 (0) 50 1159-213