Ban the bomblet - Churches celebrate the Cluster Munitions Act

Methodist, Baptist and United Reformed Church leaders havewelcomed the passing of the Cluster Munitions (Prohibitions) Acttoday in parliament.

The Act ensures that the UK military cannot use cluster munitions,nor can UK military establishments house cluster bombs for othernations. The Churches have been campaigning for this change for thelast two years and were pleased to note the all-party support forthe Act arising from strong public support for banning theseweapons.

"Five years ago this issue was nowhere on the internationalpolitical scene," said Revd Jonathan Edwards, General Secretary ofthe Baptist Union. "We added our voice to the growing call to banthese weapons because our faith reminds us of the importance ofevery life. This Act enables the UK to ratify the internationaltreaty banning cluster munitions - something that has been calledfor by thousands of people around the world."

Cluster munitions contain many bomblets, small objects typicallythe size of a drinks can, which explode spreading shredded metalaround the surrounding area. Sometimes bomblets fail to explode,meaning unexploded bombs are left at the scene of conflict.

Revd John Marsh, Moderator of the General Assembly of the UnitedReformed Church, added: "These weapons are indiscriminate, harmingcivilians and soldiers alike, and can lay dormant, only to explodeyears later. It is vital that when a war ends, it truly ends.Unexploded bombs must never maim children after armies have stoppedfighting. "

Cluster munitions have been widely used in conflicts around theglobe, but on 1 August this year, an international treaty will comeinto effect, banning the use, production, stockpiling and transferof cluster munitions, and requiring countries to assist survivorsand affected communities.

Revd Dr Martyn Atkins, General Secretary of the Methodist Church,said: "The moral significance of this bill cannot be overstated. Itbuilds upon widespread recognition of key ethical principles thatare enshrined in international humanitarian law. When ensuring ourown security we must recognise the importance of adhering to theseprinciples."