So one might conclude from statements last week by our Opinio Juris colleague Julian Ku and others.
On Friday in Dublin, Ireland, 111 nation-states voted to adopt the treaty. On December 3 Norway will host a signing ceremony for the treaty, which will not enter into force until after 30 states have ratified it.
Key to the treaty is Article 1, "General obligations and scope of application," which provides:
1. Each State Party undertakes never under any circumstances to:
(a) Use cluster munitions;
(b) Develop, produce, otherwise acquire, stockpile, retain or transfer to anyone, directly or indirectly, cluster munitions;
(c) Assist, encourage or induce anyone to engage in any activity prohibited to a State Party under this Convention.
1. Each State Party shall, in accordance with national regulations, separate all cluster munitions under its jurisdiction and control from munitions retained for operational use and mark them for the purpose of destruction.
2. Each State Party undertakes to destroy or ensure the destruction of all cluster munitions referred to in paragraph 1 of this Article as soon as possible but not later than eight years after the entry into force of this Convention for that State Party. ...
may or may not be a good idea. But since key cluster bomb producers and users like the United States, Russia, China, Israel, India and Pakistan are not signatories, the importance of this treaty, beyond its symbolism, is questionable. Like the treaty to ban landmines, the vast majority of countries that will sign on to this treaty do not possess cluster bombs anyway. Hence, this is, for most countries, a costless decision and the use of landmines or cluster bombs is not substantially affected.
'This is a treaty drafted largely by countries which do not fight wars. Treaties like this make me want to barf. It's so irrelevant. Completely feel-good.'
Britain had the most difficult decision, and it is a challenge for realists to explain why a country like Britain would give up a military weapon without gaining any concessions from most of its treaty partners.
does not deny that states may seek to maximise self-interest; nevertheless, it accepts that self-interest may entail something other than aggrandisement of political and economic power. A state may, for example, come to find self-interest in the promotion of international respect for human rights. At the very least, a state will want to be seen as acting in this manner, even if it simultaneously pursues less idealistic paths. This well may have a pragmatic dimension: the self-interest of a weaker state in restraining the power of others is evident. But there also may be an idealistic dimension, a self-interest in placing the needs of the cross-border human collectivity over those of any individual state. ...