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Holy See Is First To Sign And Ratify Cluster Munitions Treaty

2009-04-02

Archbishop Dominique Mamberti
Secretary for Relations with States

First, we want to express human closeness to the victims that the Holy See and its institutions wish to emphasize. We would then launch an appeal to all countries, the well known producers, exporters and users of cluster munitions to join the present signatories to make sure that the message of all the victims and all countries seriously affected by these weapons was heard.

Cluster munitions are weapons which release hundreds of smaller submunitions, deployed by airplanes or artillery units during military conflicts. The submunitions are scattered during dispersal and make no distinction between military or civilian targets. And the ones that fail to detonate on impact often become antipersonnel mines which can kill or main people long after the conflict is over. Afghanistan, Lebanon, Vietnam, and Cambodia are some of the countries still dealing with cluster munitions in the aftermath of conflicts on their soil.

93 other countries signed the convention in Oslo, Norway in early December, but the Holy See was the first to ratify it.

Card. Renato Martino
President, Pontifical Council Justice and Peace

The Holy See was part of a core group of countries that has discussed and brought to an end this convention, because the Holy See views every weapon as a potential instrument of destruction, especially these cluster weapons which are the epitome of harm.

Several countries have not yet signed on to the treaty, most notably major weapons manufacturing states like the United States, Russia, and China. However, other countries who have not yet signed the treaty will be able to do so in the future at the United Nations.