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Europe

Conference to Ban Cluster Bombs Starts in Dublin

An international conference to draw up a comprehensive treaty on banning cluster bombs, was set to begin Monday, May 19, in Dublin, with representatives of over 100 governments expected to attend.

graphic of a cluster bomb

Key makers of cluster bombs are unlikely to attend the conference

The two-week conference organized by the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) aims to end the use of cluster bombs, large weapons that spread dozens and even hundreds of smaller bombs, often called bomblets, over a wide area.

Cluster bombs have been condemned as they "cannot distinguish between military targets and civilians so the humanitarian impact can be extreme," a statement from the coalition said.

'We need to stop the maiming and killing'

Unexploded bomblets cause casualties and injuries years after conflicts end, the statement said.

"We are confident that governments will make the right decision and adopt a ban with no exceptions, no loopholes and no delays. This is what is needed to do justice to the victims of this weapon and to stop the maiming and killing of generations to come," CMC coordinator Thomas Nash said.

Pope, bishops favor a ban

Pope Benedict XVI spoke in favor of a comprehensive ban on Sunday in the northern Italian city of Genoa ahead of the conference.

Also on Sunday, Ireland's Catholic bishops called on the Irish government to adopt the ban, and Catholic organization Pax Christi told national broadcaster RTE it was surprised there was not already a treaty.

Advocates of a ban and survivors of cluster bomb attacks were expected to attend the conference, but the main producers of the weapons -- the United States, Israel, China, Russia, India and Pakistan-- have said they will stay away.

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