Cluster bomb ban treaty approved
Quote:More than 100 nations have reached an agreement on a treaty which would ban current designs of cluster bombs.
Diplomats meeting in Dublin agreed to back an international ban on the use of the controversial weapons following 10 days of talks.
But some of the world's main producers and stockpilers - including the US, Russia and China - oppose the move.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown called it a "big step forward to make the world a safer place".
He announced earlier that Britain would be taking cluster bombs out of service.
The final draft of the new convention banning cluster bombs went before delegates from a total of 109 countries on Wednesday afternoon and the deal was reached earlier than expected.
Thomas Nash, from campaign group the Cluster Munition Coalition, said: "This is an incredibly positive document.
See how a cluster bomb works
"It's going to set a new norm, a new standard of international behaviour, that will say cluster munitions are unacceptable."
Cluster bombs have been used in countries including Cambodia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Lebanon.
They are made up of a big container which opens in mid-air, dropping hundreds of smaller individual bombs, or sub-munitions, across a wide area.
These "bomblets" usually explode once they hit their target, but can fail to do so, leaving a deadly legacy as civilians return to their homes.
Speaking at Downing Street earlier, Mr Brown said: "We have decided, after a great deal of discussion, that we can help break the log jam so that we can get international agreement that would ban cluster bombs.
"We have decided we will take all our types of cluster bombs out of service."
The BBC's Paul Adams said he understood the agreement would effectively outlaw the two cluster munitions currently held by UK forces, but would not prevent countries from developing future generations of weapons based on the concept of sub-munitions.
He said it appeared the UK hoped to draw up a deal which other countries not present in Dublin, notably the US, might be persuaded to accept later.
Using British soil
One stumbling block for the treaty could be the stockpile of cluster munitions the US military keeps at bases on British soil.
The British representative in Dublin, John Duncan, said the UK would work with Washington to find a solution to the issue.
The ban also has the support of many humanitarian organisations.
Marc Garlasco, of Human Rights Watch, said even countries that had not made the commitment would be affected.
He referred to the mine ban treaty of 1997 that was never signed by the United States, Israel, Russia or China, yet those nations have not used landmines since it came into effect, he said.
"By stigmatising a weapon you're causing nations not to use it and that's exactly what's going to happen here."
Anna MacDonald, from Oxfam which has campaigned against cluster bombs, said: "They've agreed a very strong treaty that will completely ban the production, the use, the stockpiling and transfer of all cluster munitions."
Jakob Kellenberger, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, said: "Cluster munitions are weapons that never stop killing."
But countries like the US, India, Pakistan and Israel claim such munitions can be highly useful on the battlefield and want to see the treaty watered down.
Quote:But countries like the US, India, Pakistan and Israel claim such munitions can be highly useful on the battlefield and want to see the treaty watered down.
What a fucking surprise!!
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