“This Convention on Cluster Munitions is a stunning example of how courageous, broad-based partnerships can face down even the most formidable challenges to human security and development. It is, however, the beginning of an exciting new phase in our battle against cluster munitions, not the end of the story (emphasis added).”281 The primary goal of the Convention, and those who worked towards accomplishing the agreement, was to end the harm caused by cluster munitions. In order for humanity to be free from the harm caused by these weapons, it is important not only for some states to pledge to uphold the provisions of the treaty, all states have to stop producing, using or transferring them, and destroy existing munitions’ stockpiles.
An international agreement banning the use of cluster munitions can, therefore, be seen as the first step of a larger objective – establishing a norm against the use, production or transfer of cluster munitions globally. International law is different in nature from national laws, which are implemented and enforced by specific mechanisms. International law, on the other hand, having no enforcement mechanisms, relies on standards of behaviour that states adopt and pledge to uphold.
As critics of the Convention are quick to point out, it is far from universally accepted. Many states have not signed or ratified this Convention, including some states who were initially supportive of the Oslo Process. Many countries are still producing, stockpiling and transferring cluster munitions. In the six years since the signing of the Convention, while none of the countries who adopted the Convention on Cluster Munitions have violated its terms, several other states have used cluster munitions in violent conflicts.
As the treaty stands currently, some of the major players in cluster munitions have remained outside the treaty process. What difference will that make to its implementation and success? In the future, will the United States, Russia or China be deterred from using these weapons?
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