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Ammunition: International Cooperation

Volume 477: debated on Monday 16 June 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what role the Government have played in securing international agreement on the banning of cluster munitions. (210792)

In November 2006, HMG made the decision to take the lead, internationally, in addressing the humanitarian concerns posed by certain types of cluster munitions.

Since this date the UK has been actively engaged with the convention on conventional weapons (CCW) and in February 2007 decided also to join the ‘Oslo' process to drive this issue forward and secure the best possible humanitarian effect.

In March 2007 the UK took the initiative and withdrew from service two types of cluster munition believed to inflict ‘unacceptable harm'—the first country to do so after the Oslo conference.

Consistently HMG's position on this issue has been made clear and was conveyed in the Prime Minister's speech in the Mansion House in November 2007 and his statement during the ‘Oslo' process conference in Dublin on 28 May 2008.

As one of 46 nations to support the ‘Oslo' process from the outset, HMG is delighted with the outcome of the Dublin Conference. A joint FCO, MOD and DfID team has worked very hard to secure a strong convention that addressed the key humanitarian concerns.

In advance of the convention entering into force the UK has once again led by example by ceasing use of cluster munitions with immediate effect and starting the programme to have them removed from service.

While this has resulted in some additional capability risk, this has been assessed as manageable and acceptable against the benefit in delivering both a strong humanitarian effect and legitimacy within the convention.