More than 100 nations have gathered to reach an agreement on a treaty that would ban current designs of clusters bombs.
Following 10 days of talks, diplomats meeting in Dublin agreed to back an international ban on the use of the controversial weapons.
But countries such as the US, Russia and China opposed the move, though they are the main producers and stockpilers.
Gordon Brown, UK’s prime minister, called it a “big step forward to make the world a safer place”. Earlier, he announced that Britain would be taking cluster bombs out of service.
On Wednesday afternoon, in front of delegates from 109 countries, went the final draft of the treaty.
Used in countries like Cambodia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Lebanon, cluster bombs are made up of a big container that opens in mid-air, dropping hundreds of smaller individual sub-munitions, or “bomblets”, across a wide area.
According to the US, India, Pakistan, Israel and others, such munitions are highly useful on the battlefield. But for opponents, where the bomblets fail to explode, they become deadly legacy for civilians.
During the conference in Dublin, delegates have heard accounts from survivors of cluster bombs attacks.
“I am delighted that the negotiations in Dublin have come to a successful conclusion and congratulate the Irish Government and all those involved.”, said Gordon Brown, speaking at Downing Street earlier.
“I am confident that this agreement is in line with British interests and values, and makes the world a safer place.”
The stockpile of cluster munitions the US military keeps at bases on British soil could be a stumbling block for the treaty. John Duncan, the British representative in Dublin, said the UK and Washington would work together in order to find a solution to the issue.
But this might be more complicated than planned as the Pentagon stood firm in a statement, saying : “While the United States shares the humanitarian concerns of those in Dublin, cluster munitions have demonstrated military utility, and their elimination from US stockpiles would put the lives of our soldiers and those of our coalition partners at risk.”
However, some campaigners show optimism in believing that countries like the US will change. As an example they cite the 1997 treaty on landmine. It was never signed by the US, Israel, Russia or China, yet none of those nations have used landmines since it came into effect.
Simon Conway, from the Cluster Munitions Coalition, said that the US would now be under “massive” pressure.
“We think now that all of America’s key allies have just renounced the weapon it will be very difficult for the US to engage in operations with countries who have banned this weapon and continue to use them” he said.
Ed Davey, Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman, said Gordon Brown must make it clear whether he would continue to allow the US to store its own cluster munitions on British territory or not.
“If he is serious about ending the scourge of these weapons, he must bring this abuse of the ‘special relationship’ to an end” Mr Davey said.