Vienna, 13 November 2010 – “Austria is free of cluster munitions!” Such was the announcement the Austrian delegation was able to make at the First Follow Up Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, held in Vientiane, Laos. Following the destruction of all Austrian stockpiles within the specified timeframe, Austria’s national ban on cluster munitions – one of the most comprehensive ones anywhere in the world – has finally been implemented.
“With the destruction of all its stockpiles, Austria is heading the movement against cluster munitions”, Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger stated, expressing his satisfaction. “I call upon all states to abandon these abhorrent weapons and swiftly destroy national stockpiles. The meeting in Laos serves as a reminder that we must counter the dangers presented by these weapons and press ahead with the implementation of the Convention”.
The Foreign Minister congratulated the host country on the organisation of the meeting: “Laos is one of the countries whose civilian population has been most severely affected by the long-term effects of this cruel weapon. Even today – more than thirty years after the end of the war in Indochina – there are still over 300 civilians, most of them children, who are killed or seriously wounded every year. Austria therefore provided support to Laos both with the preparation of the meeting and the implementation of its cluster munitions clearance projects, facilitating the economic reclamation of land”.
The Cluster Munitions Convention, which provides for the ban of such weapons, entered into force on 1 August 2010. It has been signed by 108 countries, of which 46 have ratified the Convention. The meeting in Vientiane, which was attended by over 1,300 representatives from more than 120 states, international organisations and civil society, adopted the Vientiane Declaration and Action Plan. The Plan provides for practical measures aimed at the destruction of existing stockpiles, the clearance of land from unexploded ordnance devices, help for victims and international co-operation. “The results of the meeting demonstrate the increasing support of the Convention by the community of nations and the firm determination of the States Parties to take concrete measures to achieve implementation. Austria will continue to be among a core group of states committed to an effective international ban on cluster munitions”, concluded the Foreign Minister.
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