Conference On Cluster Bombs Opens In New Zealand

WELLINGTON, Feb 18 (Bernama) — A five-day conference on cluster bombs opened in Wellington on Monday with the attendance of more than 500 delegates from over 122 countries, China’s Xinhua news agency reported.

The meeting, the largest ever disarmament conference held in New Zealand, was a pivotal step in a process to produce a meaningful international treaty on cluster munitions, New Zealand Defence, Disarmament and Arms Control Minister Phil Goff said on Monday.

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“The challenge before us is to build agreement among a sufficient mass of countries, including those who possess cluster munitions, to form a legally binding treaty to stop unacceptable harm to civilians,” he said at the opening session.

The five-day conference is one of a series held as part of a Norwegian initiative launched in February last year which is set to culminate with the adoption of a treaty in Dublin in May.

The conference was organised by the Cluster Munitions Coalition (CMC), a global network of 200 civil society organisations.

“The conference is a key step along the way in the Oslo Process, which New Zealand and six other countries started last year,” Goff said earlier.

“The goal of the Oslo Process is to ban the use of cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm to civilians,” Goff said.

“The conference will try to establish which munitions should fall into this category. We seek a strong outcome from the conference, with a critical mass of countries signing a Wellington Declaration,” he added.

This will create political momentum leading up to formal negotiations to be held at a diplomatic conference in Dublin in May, he said.