A landmark treaty banning cluster bombs has come into force and is now enshrined in international law. Dropped from aircraft, the weapons scatter bomblets over a wide area.
But they often fail to detonate immediately and can explode years after a conflict, killing or maiming civilians.
The treaty has been signed by 107 nations and 37 of those have ratified the document including Britain, France, Germany and Japan.
Pope Benedict XVI welcomed the treaty calling it an “encouraging sign”.
He said: “The international community has demonstrated wisdom, long-sightedness, and a capacity for successfully achieving a significant result towards disarmament and international human rights.”
The United States, China and Russia have opted out of the pact as have India, Pakistan and Israel.
The treaty requires signatory nations to destroy stockpiled cluster munitions within eight years and to clear contaminated areas within a decade.
The US is the world’s biggest producer of the weapons but it has an export moratorium in place
and has pledged to ban cluster bombs by 2018.