A Decade of Action: The Cluster Munition Coalition at Work

Dr. Robert Mtonga addressing Convention on Cluster Muntions 4MSP, Lusaka, Zambia©CMC

Dr. Robert Mtonga addressing Convention on Cluster Munitions 4MSP-Lusaka, Zambia, Sept. 2013©CMC

CMC Campaign Member Dr. Robert Mtonga, IPPNW Zambia

The CMC train grindingly left the station some 10 years ago to embark on what seemed like a long and tortuous and lonely journey to a world free of human suffering caused by the menace of cluster munitions.

Ten years on, the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) is alive and robustly well, carrying a healthy baby, the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM), in its fifth year of life, on its back.

Looking back, I see Africa as one of those places where leadership in the lead-up process to the CCM hailed from. The Oslo Process Regional Meeting held in Livingstone, Zambia, in May 2008 marked the point of no return when 40 African states promulgated the Livingstone Declaration that set the mood moving towards the Diplomatic Conference in Dublin, Ireland, in May 2008.

Leadership, accountability and partnerships between and among like-minded governments and the CMC ensured that the parties remained strong and focused on the big prize.  CMC campaigners from and working with Africa served as a moral engine. African states, under the leadership of one Sheila Mweemba from the Zambian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, were in constant touch with the CMC. On its side the CMC was equipped with data, plausible arguments (and counter arguments) and a winning strategy, washing away old and tired arguments about the perceived utility of cluster munitions, the legal and military bottlenecks against a ban.

Expert knowledge and time-tested tactics were deployed effectively in the lead-up to and during the Dublin Diplomatic Conference on the Oslo Process.

Ten years on, the production, transfer, stockpiling and use of Cluster munitions is anathema. The norm is so strong that even those states still to join the Convention dare not even think of mentioning the words “cluster munitions”!

The ugly stains on this otherwise immaculate fabric, occasioned by Syria among others, have attracted loud and round condemnation, as it should be. Thanks in no small measure to the CMC.

Ten years on, the CMC in Africa is strong and united. It has been working round the clock to ensure that the continent accounts for the largest regional block of states parties and signatories.

Ten years on, Zambia, one of the champion states on the CCM in Africa and beyond, hosted the 4th Meeting of States Parties (4MSP) – an African first. The CMC was there as ever, in full force. The theme of the 4MSP, how appropriate and timely, was universalisation of the Convention.

Looking back, I see how right the CMC was in believing in its mission, all the challenges notwithstanding. Two-thirds of States Parties’ declared stockpiles have been destroyed in record time. The joiners globally have been increasing steadily. Clearance of contaminated areas is on-going and dedicated funding is still flowing. And perhaps more importantly, the number of new victims of cluster munitions detonations is on a downward path (the sad stain of Syrian casualties this past year notwithstanding). All in 10 years of the CMC’s life.

The train that left the station 10 odd years ago is still moving toward a world free of the menace of cluster munitions.

Happy 10th Birth Day CMC!  May the CMC star remain lustrous for many more years to come!

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