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Swiss deplore failure of cluster bomb talks

The foreign ministry has expressed regret that talks on a United Nations agreement on cluster bombs in Geneva have ended without a deal.

This content was published on November 26, 2011 - 12:40
swissinfo.ch and agencies

Switzerland said the talks were characterised by diverging views on the proper balance between humanitarian and military interests. However Switzerland welcomed the fact that negotiations had not resulted in an accord that was “questionable from a humanitarian or international law perspective”.

A United States-led push to regulate, rather than ban, cluster munitions failed on Friday after 50 countries objected, following humanitarian campaigners' claims that anything less than an outright ban would be an unprecedented reversal of human rights law. 

Activists say such regulations would legitimise the munitions, backtracking from the Oslo Convention, an international treaty banning cluster bombs and signed by 111 countries, including Switzerland.

US officials say it makes sense to bring in rules because most cluster munition stockpiles are held by countries that are not parties to the Oslo Convention. 

Talks started two weeks ago in Geneva on the proposal supported in particular by the US, China, Russia, India and South Korea to ban cluster munitions manufactured before 1980. 

Cluster bombs, dropped by air or fired by artillery, scatter hundreds of bomblets across a wide area and can kill and maim civilians long after conflicts end.

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