Dublin, Ireland, May 21, 2008 / 03:32 am
Pope Benedict XVI has prayed for the success of the Diplomatic Conference on Cluster Munitions as it opens in Ireland in hopes of negotiating a treaty banning the deadly weapons.
Humanitarian organizations have said a binding treaty is urgently needed because the weapons cause “unacceptable harm to civilians,” Vatican Radio reports. When a cluster weapon is used, it scatters thousands of small bomblets across a wide area. Some of these bomblets fail to explode and can still injure or kill civilians who return to the area.
In recent years the weapons have been used in Kosovo, Cambodia, Afghanistan, and Lebanon.
A core of seven countries, including Ireland and the Holy See, played a leading role in bringing negotiations to their present stage. More than 100 nations are represented at the conference.