Abu Ali Ahmad, left, shows a friend a crate full of detonated cluster bombs in a field in southern Lebanon in 2006. An effort to regulate the use of cluster bombs failed to get enough support from countries that have signed the Oslo Convention. (File photo / Agence France-Presse)
25 Nov 2011 By KATE BRANNEN DefenseNews
A U.S.-led effort to regulate the use of cluster bombs failed to get sufficient support from countries that have signed the Oslo Convention, an international treaty that bans the weapons.
The protocol was rejected Nov. 25 after several weeks of negotiations between member states of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) in Geneva.
If it had passed, the legally binding protocol would have banned cluster bombs manufactured before 1980 and required safeguards and regulations for those manufactured after that date. China and Russia, who, along with the United States, are major producers of the weapons, supported the effort.
Meanwhile, several of the 111 signatories of the Oslo Convention believed this regulatory approach undermined or at least diluted the outright ban. Human Rights Watch, the International Committee of the Red Cross and other groups opposed the treaty and praised its defeat.
It is unclear when the major users will be brought to the table again, a senior U.S. official said.
Until the last hour of negotiations, amendments were being offered to address the Oslo countries' concerns, but in the end they were insufficient, the U.S. official said.
Part of the U.S. argument for the protocol was that if enacted, it would prohibit more cluster munitions for the United States than the Oslo Convention has prohibited for all of its member states combined.