MANILA AND GENEVA, 29 JULY 2020 – The Philippines stressed the importance of banning cluster munitions and called for more countries to accede to the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) during a webinar it organized today for defense and military officials from all ten ASEAN Member States.

The CCM is a legally-binding international treaty that seeks to eliminate harmful effects caused by cluster bombs through comprehensive prohibition of their use, production, stockpiling and transfer. The Philippines, which ratified the CCM in 2019, currently serves, together with Chile, as Coordinator for CCM Universalization, tasked with helping promote universal adherence to the treaty and its norms.

Brig. Gen. Fernando V. Felipe, commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Munitions Control Center, stressed that the Philippines has always been “fully aware of [cluster munitions’] potential harm to non-combatants long after deployment.” Thus, the AFP has never possessed cluster munitions.

While the Philippines is neither a former possessor state nor a contaminated country, General Felipe said that the country actively participated in the drafting of the CCM and is committed in helping promote universal adherence to the treaty and its norms as part of its commitment to International Humanitarian Law. He added that the Philippines has benefited from learning from affected communities and from international cooperation towards capacity-building after joining the CCM.

Officials from the Lao People’s Army, National Regulatory Authority for UXO and Mine Action, and Foreign Ministry briefed the webinar on Lao PDR’s experience in humanitarian mine action in general and implementing the CCM in particular.

Among ASEAN Member States, only the Philippines and Laos have ratified the CCM so far, while Indonesia has signed and is in the process of completing its domestic ratification process.

Swiss Ambassador Felix Bauman, President-designate of the Second CCM Review Conference, has identified Asia-Pacific as a priority region for CCM universalization efforts. In a pre-recorded message, Ambassador Bauman welcomed the Philippines’ efforts to promote the CCM in the ASEAN region and urged ASEAN Member States to undertake efforts towards the universalization of the CCM and its norms.

CCM Implementation Support Unit Director Sheila Mweemba and panelists from the International Committee on the Red Cross and the International Campaign to Ban Landmines- Cluster Munitions Coalition provided overviews of the humanitarian impact of cluster munitions use, the general legal framework of the CCM, and the assistance available to countries once they join the treaty. END