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Treaty Likely to Set International Standard Against Use of Cluster Munitions

Monday, June 2, 2008

On May 30, more than 100 countries meeting in Dublin agreed to the text of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which promises to vastly limit the use of weapons that have led to humanitarian suffering for decades. Spurred on by a February 2007 meeting hosted by Norway, the "Oslo" process has moved remarkably quickly to reach a consensus on dealing with bombs, rockets and artillery shells that disperse submunitions over large areas. These "bomblets" often fail to explode at first and later injure noncombatants, including children attracted to what look like golf balls or ribboned cans.

Despite the agreement, short-term changes in U.S. military policy are highly unlikely, especially after compromise provisions were inserted into the final text. Over time, however, the convention should establish a norm that will limit U.S. and global behavior, just as Oslo's inspirational parent, the Ottawa Convention, has stigmatized the use of anti-personnel landmines. ...

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