The development and use of cluster munitions dates back to World War II. In the 1960s and 70s, the far-reaching consequences of their use in Southeast Asia (in particular in Laos and Vietnam) provoked world-wide outrage. The high incidence of unexploded cluster bombs in conflict zones is a serious humanitarian problem: unexploded ordinance continues to cause countless deaths and injuries for many years after conflicts have ended and impedes the post-conflict reconstruction of affected countries.
The CCM was approved at the International Conference in Dublin on 30 May 2008. Federal Councillor Micheline Calmy-Rey signed the Convention in Oslo on behalf of the Federal Council on 3 December 2008. To date, 108 states throughout the world have signed the CCM and 46 have ratified it, including Germany, France, Norway, the U.K., Canada, Australia and Japan.
Swiss foreign policy is deeply involved in questions concerning human security and international humanitarian law. The primary aim of this policy is to protect the rights of individuals both in times of peace and armed conflict. A Swiss delegation took part in the first international meeting on the CCM, which took place from 9-12 November 2010 in Vientiane, Laos, one of the world’s most severely affected countries. Switzerland contributes more than CHF 16 million p.a. for projects throughout the world on humanitarian demining and clearing the explosive remnants of war. Such projects are also carried out in Laos, where even forty years after the war up to 78 million non-exploded bombs supposedly exist.
The Swiss Armed Forces have stocks of artillery munitions that come under the ban stipulated by the CCM, in particular cluster munitions of the types KaG-88, KaG88/99, KaG-90 and KaG-98. By ratifying the Convention, Switzerland would undertake, among other things, to destroy its stocks of these munitions within eight years.
Ratification of the Convention will also require a review of the Federal Act on War Material. The law would have to be supplemented with a ban on cluster munitions together with corresponding penal provisions.
The Convention on Cluster Munitions follows in the spirit of the Convention on the Ban on Antipersonnel Mines (the Ottawa Convention), which Switzerland, as one of the first countries, signed on 3 December 1997 and ratified on 24 March 1998.
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