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Zambia: States share responsibility to build a world free of cluster munitions

07-10-2013 Interview

Zambia’s year-long presidency of the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) began earlier this month when capital city Lusaka hosted the Fourth Meeting of States Parties to the Convention. On the sidelines of the annual meeting, Gabriel Namulambe, Zambia’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, spoke about the country’s key role in encouraging other States to eradicate weapons that have killed and maimed tens of thousands of people in war-torn countries around the world.

This is the first time the annual meeting has been held on the African continent. How significant is that?

It is an honour and privilege for Zambia to have been chosen as the first African country to host the Meeting of States Parties to the CCM. Since the Convention entered into force in August 2010 the treaty has gained the support of 113 States – 84 as States Parties and 29 as signatories. Over 25 per cent of the States Parties are African States, including Zambia.

We have been actively promoting the Convention since its inception. Zambia will use its presidency this year to encourage other States, particularly in Africa, to ratify and implement the Convention, as part of the movement towards universalization, i.e. that all States ratify the Convention.

Zambia has long been a supporter of the Convention. Why?

Zambia played a leadership role during the Oslo Process, and it subsequently was one of the first 30 States to ratify the CCM, thereby triggering the entry into force of that Convention. Since 2010, Zambia has actively contributed to the implementation of the CCM by, for example, assuming the role of “Support on Clearance and Risk Reduction” under the Second Meeting of States Parties, as well as being a coordinator of “General Status and Operation of the CCM” under the Third Meeting of States Parties.

Zambia has a record of championing peace, having participated in many peace processes in the region. Zambia felt compelled to become active in the fight against cluster munitions out of a moral conviction after witnessing the indiscriminate effect that cluster munitions have on civilians, particularly women and children. Zambia joined the Convention to ensure that Africa, as well as the world at large, rids itself of these dangerous weapons. As a result of this involvement, Zambia has been recognized as an important party to the advancement of a world free of cluster munitions.

What is your message to States that still have to ratify the Convention?

It is our shared responsibility to restore human dignity. The fight against cluster munitions will not be complete if some countries remain outside the Convention. It is Zambia’s belief that a world free of cluster munitions is only achievable if all countries of the world come together to reject the production, use and stockpiling of cluster munitions. Furthermore, Zambia believes that all countries have a shared moral responsibility to ensure that innocent lives are not lost to these deadly weapons and that the world is clear of cluster munitions. We, therefore, call upon all countries of the world to do what is honourable and say “no” to cluster munitions.

How will this meeting help keep the momentum going to reduce the problem of cluster munitions?

After the meeting, we hope that every country and organization represented will convince their neighbours to renounce the production, use and stockpiling of cluster munitions.

The theme of the meeting was universalization. We believe that there is strength in numbers – only if all States ratify the Convention can we hope to achieve our goals. Therefore, we will make every effort to encourage more States to join the Convention. We owe it to the world and to future generations to have a world free of cluster munitions.