Vienna, 3 December 2008 - "The most important disarmament treaty of the past ten years has been signed in Oslo today. The agreement on cluster munitions sets forth a comprehensive ban on this cruel weapon, constituting a milestone in the development of international humanitarian law. Not least because of its comprehensive Act on Cluster Munitions Austria has been in the vanguard and has succeeded in convincing others of the usefulness of this endeavour in the past two years," stated Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger, commenting on the Cluster Munitions Signing Conference currently being held in Oslo.
An initiator of the international process against cluster munitions launched in early 2007, Austria has consistently advocated a wide-ranging ban on cluster munitions and comprehensive aid to victims. In December 2007, the Vienna Cluster Munitions Conference boosted awareness in favour of an international ban, resulting in numerous new supporters for the process. The outcome was a draft agreement based on international law that was supported by a large majority of states. This draft was adopted with only a few changes by 107 states at a conference held in Dublin in May 2008.
"In addition to the international proscription of an entire arms category, the agreement for the first time offers a legal basis to provide effective long-term support for those who have become victims of this inhumane weapon," stated Spindelegger.
The Foreign Minister also emphasised the close and fruitful network of governments, non-governmental organisations, parliaments, survivors and committed citizens as driving forces in elaborating the agreement: "This new form of multilateral diplomacy has decisively contributed to the success of the process. Together we must now implement the goal of a worldwide ban on cluster munitions," asserted the Foreign Minister.
In Austria, a law imposing an unconditional ban on all cluster munitions entered into force in January 2008.
Federal Ministry for
European and international Affairs
Tel.: ++43 (0) 50 1150-3262, 4549, 4550
Fax: ++43 (0) 50 1159-213