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Cluster Munitions

Volume 455: debated on Thursday 25 January 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of progress in the clearance of cluster munitions from affected areas in Lebanon; what recent representations she has made to the Government of Israel to assist in the clearance of these munitions; and if she will make a statement. (117160)

According to the UN Mine Action Co-ordination Centre south Lebanon (UNMACC), a total of 95,304 cluster bombs have been cleared by UNMACC teams, UN Interim Force in Lebanon teams, and the Lebanese armed forces.

We continue to be concerned about levels of unexploded ordnance and cluster munitions in south Lebanon. We have called on Israel to make a public statement about their use of cluster munitions and have discussed the issue with the Government of Israel, the Government of Lebanon and human rights organisations. The Israeli defence forces have launched an inquiry into the use of cluster munitions during the conflict between Israel and Hizbollah between 12 July and 14 August last year, including on the chain of command between in ordering their use. This inquiry is ongoing and its findings will be made public once the investigation has concluded.

In response to the dangers posed by unexploded cluster bombs in Lebanon, the Department of International Development has this year committed a total of £2.8 million to the Mines Advisory Group and the UN Mine Action Service for clearing unexploded ordnance. I announced £l million of this during my visit to Lebanon in December 2006.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made towards securing an international agreement on the explosive remnants of war with a particular focus on cluster munitions; and if she will make a statement. (117161)

A Group of Government Experts (GGE) is working within the framework of the convention on certain conventional weapons (CCW) on the humanitarian impact of cluster munitions. This work is an essential preliminary step before any future negotiations that might lead to a new legally binding protocol. The UK played a leading role in pushing for this GGE and will work to ensure it is focused on producing practical results. The UK also played a leading role in securing Protocol V of the CCW on Explosive Remnants of War, which came into force in November 2006. The UK is in the process of ratifying this protocol.