February 20 2008

PRESS RELEASE

PACIFIC STATES CONGRATULATED FOR STRONG SUPPORT FOR CLUSTER MUNITIONS BAN

Pacific Civil Society members attending the Wellington Conference on Cluster Munitions have congratulated Fiji, the Cook Islands and Nauru for making strong statements on Tuesday for a total ban on cluster munitions.

They urge other Pacific countries to make equally strong interventions in support of a comprehensive treaty that will prevent unacceptable harm to civilians. Other Pacific countries in attendance include Marshall Islands, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu.

Cluster Munitions are explosive weapons that have killed and maimed civilians in every conflict where they have been used for the past 40 years. This has propelled global civil society and governments to attempt to ban cluster munitions, and 122 governments, including 10 Pacific Island nations are meeting this week to discuss this global humanitarian crisis.

“With the meeting being hosted in the region, this presents an ideal opportunity for Pacific member states to rally behind New Zealand and demonstrate to the rest of the world our solidarity on this critical issue to ensure a safe and secure region and world,” says Ema Tagicakibau, Disarmament Campaigner with the Fiji-based Pacific Concerns Resource Centre (PCRC).   

“While Pacific states may not currently experience the direct impact of cluster munitions we are concerned that our women and men who continue to or are planning to serve as UN peacekeepers, in foreign military forces, or as private security guards in war-torn zones are exposed to these deadly weapons of destruction. It is for them and for victims/survivors that Pacific states have a moral obligation to support efforts to end the appalling impact of these monstrous weapons of war,” Ms Tagicakibau added.

Pacific civil society members present particularly call on the Australian government to abandon attempts to dilute the draft text of this very strong Convention and to fully support the Wellington Declaration. This Declaration will be the ticket to Dublin in May, when the final text for the Convention will be negotiated.  

We hope that Pacific governments will exercise wisdom and deep compassion as their guiding principles in supporting the draft convention and not allow economic and political considerations to cloud commitments to world peace and security.

ENDS.