25 November 2020, Friday, Geneva Switzerland – The Philippines pushed for stronger global efforts to stop the production and use of cluster bombs, calling on states-parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) to get more countries to sign or ratify the convention.

States parties to the CCM are virtually holding the first segment of their Review Conference to discuss the implementation of the convention this week, where they are expected to adopt a five-year blueprint for taking forward their goals and commitments to the treaty.

Signed in 2008, the CCM is a legally-binding treaty that seeks to eliminate harmful effects caused by cluster bombs by comprehensively banning their use, production, stockpiling, and transfer. The Philippines ratified this treaty in 2019, joining 110 other states parties that work together to eliminate cluster bombs. In order to fully achieve the CCM’s goals, however, the convention needs to be “universalized” – diplomatic term for increasing the number of countries that adhere to the treaty.

Ambassador Maria Teresa T. Almojuela, Philippine Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, encouraged the Review Conference today to adopt measures outlined in a paper entitled “Ways Forward on Universalization.” This document was jointly prepared by the Philippines and Chile.

The said document provides a comprehensive analysis of the challenges to promoting the treaty, along with specific forward-looking steps towards expanding the treaty’s membership. These steps seek to harness regional and global partnerships to promote the treaty’s humanitarian agenda.

The Philippines and Chile currently serve as coordinators for universalization, selected by CCM states parties to coordinate efforts to promote the treaty and its norms. The two countries formed an informal working group of states and stakeholders earlier this year to brainstorm strategies and to synergize efforts to encourage more states to ratify or accede to the treaty.

The Philippines’ work as a coordinator on universalization is complemented by the country’s national efforts to promote adherence to the CCM, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs invited Asia-Pacific diplomats to a workshop in Manila in June last year to discuss the humanitarian principles promoted by the CCM. In July this year, the Philippine Mission to the United Nations in Geneva organized a webinar among military and defense ministry experts from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to promote the treaty.

The results of these regional efforts, said Ambassador Almojuela, “inform the analysis of our collective universalization efforts that the Philippines and Chile articulated in our Ways Forward paper.”

While the Philippines is neither a former possessor state nor a cluster munitions-contaminated country, the country is a firm supporter of efforts to ban cluster bombs as part of its commitment to International Humanitarian Law (IHL). The CCM provides for international cooperation and assistance in clearing cluster bomb remnants and providing assistance to their victims. The Philippines is a strong supporter of enhancing the affected states’ national capacities and reducing their reliance on foreign technical expertise, and in promoting the balanced participation of women and men, in this regard.