The Great Debate UK
Bonnie Docherty is a senior researcher in the Arms Division at Human Rights Watch. She is also a lecturer and clinical instructor in the International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School. The opinions expressed are her own.
On August 1, the world moved a step closer to eliminating cluster munitions, large weapons that carry dozens or hundreds of smaller submunitions and are notorious for killing and maiming civilians, both during attacks and long afterward.
On that day, the Convention on Cluster Munitions “entered into force,” becoming binding international law on the countries that have joined it. The treaty seeks to eradicate these weapons, which have plagued the world for half a century.
It is a milestone to celebrate. But it is also a moment to reflect on the road ahead. To help the convention achieve its full potential, the international community needs to work toward three goals: complete universalization—that is, getting all countries to join, strong interpretation, and effective implementation.
- Bonnie Docherty, a researcher in the Arms Division at Human Rights Watch, has conducted investigative field missions on cluster munition use in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Israel, and Georgia and was actively involved in the negotiations for the new Convention on Convention Munitions. The opinions expressed are her own. -
Six months after the new treaty banning cluster munitions opened for signature, half the world has formally expressed its support. So far, the Convention on Cluster Munitions has an impressive 98 signatories, 10 of which have ratified. Those figures are growing, and Albania, Niger, and Spain ratified this month. The convention will enter into force six months after the thirtieth state ratifies. Many observers predict that it will actually enter into force in 2010, a remarkably short turnaround for international law.