Churches praise new Government stance on cluster munitions

At talks in Dublin over the last two weeks, governments havedrafted the text for a treaty to ban the use of cluster bombs. Thisweek the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown has committed the UK towithdrawing the remaining two cluster munitions from itsarsenal.

The Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Methodist Church and theUnited Reformed Church have for some time campaigned for a full banon cluster munitions. Today they issued a joint statement welcomingthe outcome of the Dublin summit.

Graham Sparkes, Head of Faith & Unity, the Baptist Union ofGreat Britain says; "the churches have been calling for such atreaty for a long time. Cluster bombs kill indiscriminately andcontinue to do so long after fighting has stopped, harming thosewho are already living in a vulnerable situation following theconflict."

In the two months after the conflict between Israel and Hezbollahon average three civilians were killed every day by unexplodedcluster bombs. One third of these deaths were children.

Simon Loveitt, the United Reformed Church's Spokesperson on PublicIssues, says; "The agreement in Dublin offers hope for a futurewithout such weapons and the chance to offer improved protectionfor civilians during and after conflict. In the past, the UK hasbeen a significant user of cluster munitions. The UK Government'ssupport for a complete ban is therefore particularlyimportant."

However, Steve Hucklesby, Methodist Secretary for InternationalAffairs, warns that there is still much to be done; "The work isnot yet finished. The strength of this treaty will largely dependon encouraging more governments to support it and take theimportant steps to phase out the stockpiling and use of theseweapons."

Information about the Churches' campaign on cluster bombs can befound at www.jointpublicissues.org.uk/clustermunitions