Geneva: A landmark international treaty to
ban cluster munitions took effect on Sunday, requiring signatories
to stop the use, production and transfer of the deadly
The Convention on Cluster Munitions entered into force
six months after more than 30 countries ratified the 2008
treaty signed by 107 nations.
China, Russia, the United States and Israel are among
those that have rejected the deal, which obliges those that
have ratified to destroy stockpiles.
Those powers are thought to hoard and manufacture the
bulk of the munitions, although the data is secret.
Campaigners including the Red Cross hope that the moral
weight of the treaty would force these big military powers to
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) chief
Jakob Kellenberger said Sunday`s milestone "stigmatises the
use of cluster munitions".
"We hope that the entry into force will also affect the
practice of states that have not yet adhered to the treaty,"
The United States alone accounts for cluster bombs or
shells containing around 800 million bomblets, according to
the Cluster Munition Coalition, citing US congressional
The munitions split open before impact and scatter
multiple -- often hundreds -- of smaller submunitions, or
plastic bomblets, the size and shape of a tennis ball or a
table lighter over a wide area.
Many of them fail to explode immediately and can lie
hidden for years, killing and maiming civilians, including
children, even decades after the original conflict is over in
countries such as Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.