The Convention on Cluster Munitions enters into force Aug. 1.
The agreement, which prohibits the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of cluster munitions, was seen as a milestone among disarmament proponents when it was adopted by 107 countries meeting in Dublin in 2008.
Since then, countries have been formally considering the convention. To date, 106 countries have signed it and 37 more have ratified it. Noticeably missing from the list are China, India, Iran, Israel, Russia, Pakistan, Syria and the United States.
Pax Christi International is calling particular attention to the convention. The Catholic peace organization, based in Brussels, Belgium, is asking parishes and local to celebrate the historic pact by educating others about the agreement.
Proponents of the ban said that banning cluster munitions protects civilians from unacceptable harm because such weapons are inaccurate and unreliable when used. Handicap International reports that 98 percent of victims of cluster munitions are civilians.
Cluster munitions are large weapons that carry dozens or even hundreds of small bombs. When deployed from the air or the ground, the “bomblets” scatter over a wide area and do not distinguish between civilian and military targets, critics say. In many cases, significant numbers of the mini-bombs fail to explode and land in open areas where children can find them or adults can step on them, causing them to go off and inflict serious injury.
The convention culminated a long campaign coordinated by the Cluster Munition Coalition, a network of 200 civil society groups including nongovernment organizations, faith-based groups and professional organizations, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations.
Pax Christi International is a coalition member.
The coalition continues its work to ban cluster munitions around the world through educational programs and grass-roots organizing.