Vienna, 5 December 2007 Press release

Plassnik: "Austria is setting standards for ban on cluster munitions


Foreign Minister opens NGO Forum on banning cluster munitions

Vienna, 4 December 2007 - "The process for a ban on cluster munitions demonstrates that foreign policy is not only the work of diplomats or government ministers. Everybody is contributing - civil society, parliamentarians, schoolchildren, survivors and university graduates. We need this new form of partnership and networking. A globally binding ban on cluster munitions is our goal, and we can only achieve it by concerted action," stated Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik today at the opening of the International Forum of the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) in Vienna, which is being attended - among others - by Judith Majlath, the head of CMC Austria, Bianca Jagger, who has been committed to this cause for many years, and cluster munitions victims.

"The Ottawa Convention is a role model and a source of inspiration for us all. It is the proof that together we can make a difference," stated Plassnik. "We already have achieved a lot this year: At the beginning our initiative for a worldwide ban on cluster munitions was supported by just a handful of states, but tomorrow as many as 127 states will be represented at the Vienna Cluster Munitions Conference. This is an impressive demonstration of interest," continued the Foreign Minister.

"Human security has always been at the centre of our foreign policy efforts. This also includes the fight against the use of such cruel weapons as cluster munitions. Austria is spearheading this process and is setting a good example: the day after tomorrow will see the adoption of a national ban on cluster munitions by Parliament," stated the Foreign Minister. The Federal Act on the Ban of Cluster Munitions covers the production, supply, sale, procurement, import, transit and export, the use and possession of cluster munitions in Austria and calls for the destruction of any cluster munitions in place in Austria within the next three years. "With this act we are setting standards and demonstrating that when we say ‘ban’ we actually mean it: no more cluster munitions!", emphasised Plassnik.

The Foreign Minister expressed her thanks to the non-governmental organisations concerned. Expressing particular gratitude to the head of CMC Austria, Judith Majlath, for her great commitment, Plassnik encouraged her to continue her work: "There is a feeling of urgency about this. I hope that as many states as possible will join our project as soon as possible," concluded the Foreign Minister.

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