They call them ‘indiscriminate killers,’ and a ban on the use of cluster bombs has moved a step closer. The weapon has been used in war since 1943. They are designed to spread death over a wide area, but they can kill and maim long after the conflict has ended. 100 nations have now signed a treaty banning their use. “Today we confirm that cluster munitions are banned forever, that we in the partnership of states, international organisations and civil society have moved the world forward,” said Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg. “This convention will make the world a safer, better place to live.”
Led by Norway, world figures added their weight to calls for a ban. But the big players were not in Norway: Russia, China and the United States, among others, refuse to support the ban, although campaigners hope Barack Obama will join them when he becomes President. 100,000 people have been wounded by cluster bombs since 1965, 98 percent of them civilians. Children are especially vulnerable, often mistaking unexploded bomblets for toys.