[JURIST] Representatives of over 100 governments will meet Monday at the Dublin Diplomatic Conference on Cluster Munitions [official website] to finalize a treaty banning the use, manufacture, and stockpiling of cluster bombs [ICRC materials; JURIST news archive]. Opponents of the ordnance, including some military officers, believe them to be inaccurate weapons designed to spread damage indiscriminately. An estimated 10-40% of the munitions fail to detonate and become a serious hazard for civilian populations. Since the two-day Oslo Conference on Cluster Munitions [conference materials] last February, there have been increasing calls to ban the weapons. Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday urged [AFP report] all governments to adopt the ban.
Last February, 46 of 49 countries participating in the Oslo Conference agreed to an action plan to develop a new international treaty [press release; JURIST report] banning the use of cluster munitions by 2008. Last month the US said it would not attend the 2008 Dublin conference, [JURIST report] echoing June 2007 statements that it does not support a ban on cluster bombs, [JURIST report] but that it is open to negotiations to reduce their impact on civilians by requiring increased reliability, accuracy and visibility of unexploded munitions. Reuters has more.