12 November 2009Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged States to remain focused on strengthening the protection of civilians from the inhumane and indiscriminate impact of cluster munitions, in a speech to the parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW). The CCW – which entered into force in 1983 – comprises a framework convention and four protocols, which ban or restrict the use of various types of weapons that are considered to cause unnecessary suffering or that affect either soldiers or civilians indiscriminately.In a message delivered in Geneva by Sergio Duarte, United Nations High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Mr. Ban described the treaty as an “indispensable element” of today’s humanitarian, disarmament and arms control machinery.“The CCW can also help us to respond to the humanitarian challenges posed by advancements in weapons technology,” he noted, adding that this is particularly relevant with regard to cluster munitions. “I urge you to remain focused on strengthening the protection of civilians from the inhumane and indiscriminate impact of these weapons, and to be guided in your efforts by the high standards embodied in the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” said Mr. Ban.Adopted in May 2008, the Convention on Cluster Munitions prohibits the use, production, transfer, and stockpiling of these weapons, which were first used in World War II. Cluster munitions contain dozens of smaller explosives designed to disperse over an area the size of several football fields, but often fail to detonate upon impact, creating large de facto minefields. The failure rate makes these weapons particularly dangerous for civilians, who continue to be maimed or killed for years after conflicts end. Some 98 per cent of victims are civilians and cluster bombs have claimed over 10,000 civilian lives, 40 per cent of whom are children.Mr. Ban also commended the 110 States that have acceded to the CCW to date, and urged all countries that have not yet done so to follow suit. He added that he is encouraged by the efforts of States parties to increase the number of CCW signatories, including wider adherence and participation among developing countries and States affected by mines and explosive remnants of war.