SARAJEVO, Bosnia (November 4,2008) - Religious leaders of different faiths, working together through Religions for Peace, the world’s largest and most representative multi-religious coalition, committed to advance a ban on cluster munitions, which—like landmines— indiscriminately kill and injure civilians.
Leader of the Bosnian Islamic Community and a Co-President of the Religions for Peace World Council Reisu-l-ulema Mustafa Ef. Ceric stated:
“Banning cluster munitions is not a work to honor the angels that have lost their lives by this morally reprehensible weapon, but to protect those not yet born."
Reisu-l-ulema Mustafa Ef. Ceric and the Bosnian Interreligious Council hosted the European Faith Leaders Conference on Cluster Munitions on 29–30 October, which was co-sponsored by Religions for Peace International, Religions for Peace ECRL and Handicap International.
“For more than 60 years, cluster munitions have killed and wounded innocent people—many of them children—causing suffering, loss, and hardship for thousands in more than 30 countries,” the religious leaders said in a statement.
Cluster munitions “continue to inflict injury and death for years—sometimes decades—after the end of a war. It is not peace when children cannot play safely in their playgrounds. It is not peace when farmers cannot cultivate their fields, nor fishermen draw their nets without fear. It is not peace when people cannot move freely in their local communities.”
“To fail to sign the treaty banning cluster munitions is to fail humanity,” said Bishop Gunnar Stålsett, Moderator of the Religions for Peace European Council of Religious Leaders (ECRL).
“We cannot take away the sorrow of those affected, but we can accompany them in their hope for justice,” he said.
Secretary General Dr. William F. Vendley stated that: “Disarmament is central to the mission of Religions for Peace. Since its founding in 1970, we have worked to advance nuclear weapons non-proliferation and reduction. Religions for Peace is committed to responding to the changing threats of arms, including the threat of cluster bombs.”
The religious leaders committed themselves to work to ensure the implementation of a global treaty that bans cluster munitions. Religions for Peace has joined hands with other groups in the Cluster Munitions Coalition committed to the ban of cluster munitions.
Earlier this year, 60 religious leaders from Religions for Peace signed an international appeal advocating the ban. A treaty was negotiated during the Dublin Diplomatic Conference on Cluster Munitions in May 2008 and adopted there by all 107 participating governments. It will be signed at a ceremony in Oslo, Norway, in December 2008. Religions for Peace representatives will be present in that ceremony.
The central provision of the Cluster Munitions Convention is the ban on the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster munitions. The treaty includes new and important obligations to protect and promote the human rights of cluster munitions victims and to ensure they receive the assistance they need to live full lives. The treaty also requires that unexploded cluster munitions are cleared within ten years.
Religions for Peace is the world’s largest and most representative multi-religious coalition advancing common action for peace since 1970. Headquartered in New York and accredited to the United Nations, Religions for Peace works through affiliated inter-religious councils in 70 countries in six continents.