[JURIST] Delegates from 68 countries wrapped up a three-day meeting [HRW press release] in Lima, Peru Friday intended as a follow-up to the February Oslo Conference on Cluster Munitions [conference materials; JURIST report], where participants signed a declaration to ban cluster bombs [FAS backgrounder; JURIST news archive] by 2008. Organizers said the Lima meeting was a success, attracting 28 new countries which did not attend the Oslo meeting. Steve Goose, director of the Arms Division at Human Rights Watch, predicted that a treaty banning the weapons could be drafted and signed within a year. The world's leading producers of cluster bombs - the United States, Russia and China - did not attend the Oslo or Lima conferences. Israel, which was criticized for using cluster munitions in Lebanon [JURIST report] during the most recent Middle East conflict, also did not attend. Another meeting is scheduled for Vienna in December.
Cluster munitions have been used by at least 23 countries; at least 34 nations have produced more than 200 different types of cluster munitions. Cluster munitions are considered by many to be inaccurate weapons designed to spread damage indiscriminately and could therefore be considered illegal [CMC backgrounder] under multiple provisions of Protocol I [text] of the Geneva Conventions (1977). Reuters has more.