Governments from more than 100 nations have agreed on a 66-point action plan to turn legal obligations in the Convention on Cluster Munitions into concrete actions.
The Vientiane Declaration and Action Plan adopted at the First Meeting of States Party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which ended in Vientiane on Friday, set unprecedented new standards by which all governments will be judged, according to a press release from the Cluster Munitions Coalition (CMC).
The Vientiane meeting has resulted in a large number of other states present announcing they were firmly on the path to signing and ratifying the convention to make it universalised and fully implemented.
Shortly after the closure of the meeting, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Dr Thongloun Sisoulith held a press conference to inform both Lao and foreign media regarding the outcome of the meeting, which opened on November 9.
He said the meeting is of historic significance for Laos, with agreement on the adoption of four important documents - the Vientiane declaration, Vientiane plan of action, a work plan for 2011, and an agreement on reporting formats under the convention.
During the meeting, several nations announced contributions to UXO clearance in Laos totalling about US$30 million through grant aid and non-governmental organisation funding.
Dr Thongloun said the meeting brought together more than 1,200 delegates from 121 nations. These included delegates from the 40 countries that have ratified the convention, 47 signatory countries and 34 nations that have not signed the convention.
Participants also included those representing more than 150 international and regional organisations as well as non-governmental organisations.
CMC Coordinator Thomas Nash said the action plan marked a dramatic change in the way cluster bombs were perceived and dealt with by all governments.
“First, the cluster bomb treaty set the strongest legal obligations to assist victims ever and now we have a clear action plan which obliges governments to turn legal language into action with rapid deadlines and a clear budget. This is exactly what people living in contaminated areas have been waiting for,” he said.
The Vientiane Action Plan clearly recognised that not enough has been done to prevent accidents, clear land and help victims.
The 66-point plan commits to implement fully all of the obligations under the convention and speed up deadlines and set budgets as well as targets to make it happen.
Signed by 108 states and ratified by 46 states, the convention obliges state parties to destroy stockpiles within eight years and clear affected areas within 10 years.
The convention also obliges party states to provide an unprecedented level of assistance to cluster munitions victims.
The affected countries have so far agreed to do more on clearance and victim assistance in 2011 and donor countries agreed to respond to requests from affected states in 2011.
The United Nations issued strong statements of support at the Vientiane meeting and remains committed to the convention, its early universalisation and full implementation.
The meeting agreed to reconvene in Lebanon in September 2011, as that country is also seriously contaminated by cluster bombs.