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Volume 474: debated on Tuesday 22 April 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has for (a) UK representation and (b) a negotiating mandate at the forthcoming conference on an international treaty on cluster munitions in Dublin in April 2008; what the UK’s policy is on (i) cluster munitions and (ii) a treaty reducing or banning their deployment; and if he will make a statement. (198113)

At the Dublin Diplomatic Conference (19-30 May) John Duncan, our Ambassador for Multilateral Arms Control and Disarmament and Permanent Representative to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, will lead the UK delegation, which will include Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Ministry of Defence and Department for International Development officials.

The Government recognises the humanitarian concerns raised by cluster munitions. Our policy is therefore to work to achieve legally binding instruments within both the Oslo Process and the UN framework, the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, that will prohibit the use, production and stockpiling of those cluster munitions which cause unacceptable harm to civilians. The mandate of the UK delegation in Dublin will reflect that objective. We want a strong treaty that will have the widest possible support from the start, particularly from the major users and producers, and thereby achieve the greatest practical humanitarian effect.