Representatives of 46 governments meeting in Oslo have signed a declaration calling for a ban on cluster bombs – weapons that have caused widespread civilian casualties around the world. Only three states at the conference – Japan, Romania and Poland – declined to sign up.
Host nation Norway urged governments to forge a plan to reach a legally binding treaty to address what it termed the “unacceptable consequences” of cluster bombs, by 2008. It says the treaty should ban the use, stockpiling and proliferation of cluster munitions and provide for clearing and destroying them. It is also urging help for affected countries. Weapons-producing nations, including the United States, Russia and China, are resisting the idea. Israel’s use of cluster munitions in its conflict with Hizbollah in Lebanon last year re-focused public awareness on the issue.