Four out of every ten people killed or injured by cluster bombs are children, delegates at a major conference on cluster munitions being held in Wellington were told today.
About 560 delegates from 122 countries have converged on Wellington for the conference which aims to draft a treaty text, to be negotiated in Dublin, Ireland, in May.
The attempt to achieve a treaty, known as the Oslo Process, was started last year by New Zealand and six other countries.
Opening the conference, Disarmament Minister Phil Goff said a strong declaration on cluster bombs at the conference would mark a pivotal step in getting the weapons banned.
More than half of the 76 states in the world that stockpile cluster munitions are taking part in the negotiations, along with a majority of the weapon producers.
However, major producers such as the US, Russia, China and Pakistan have not joined the process and have no observers at the conference.
Cluster bombs are built to explode above the ground, releasing thousands of bomblets primed to detonate on impact. But combat statistics show between 10 percent and 40 percent fail to go off and lie primed in the target area to kill and injure civilians.
RLCC: Banning certain types of weapons stops short of total disarmament. The whole world must totally disarm. Anything less is insane.
CommonDreams.org from on February 19, 2008, 9:00amby