A US-backed proposition for new regulations on cluster bombs has been rejected on Friday by UN member states.
The plan aimed at destroying all cluster munitions (photo, from bbcimg.co.uk) made before 1980.
Human rights groups said that the new protocol would dilute the provisions of an already existing international convention banning such bombs.
The US said that it was “deeply disappointed” by the decision.
In a statement the US embassy in Geneva said : “The protocol would have led to the immediate prohibition of many millions of cluster munitions [and] placed the remaining cluster munitions under a detailed set of restrictions and regulations.”
First developed during World War II, cluster bombs are dropped from warplanes or fired from artillery guns. They are built to explode above the ground and release thousands of bomblets, designated for detonating on impact. But it’s estimated that between 10% and 40% of the bomblets released just above the ground fail to detonate.
The Oslo convention prohibiting the production, transfer and use of cluster munitions has already been signed by 111 UN member states. The US, Russia and China are among the countries who have not signed the convention.
When targets are spread over wide areas the bombs are a military necessity, said a senior US official, adding that it would cause more collateral damage and prolong conflicts to use alternative armaments, Reuters reports.
Human rights campaigners welcomed the outcome of the meeting in Geneva, arguing that cluster bombs are indiscriminate weapons that can fail to explode on impact and lie dormant, often causing injury to civilian years after conflict has ended.
“How often do you see the US, Russia, China, India, Israel and Belarus push for something, and they don’t get it? That has happened largely because of one powerful alliance driving the Oslo partnership,” said Steve Goose of Human Rights Watch (HRW).
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the top UN officials for human rights, emergency relief and development also opposed the US-backed plan.