A worldwide treaty banning the use of cluster bombs has come into force to become binding international law in countries that have signed and ratified it.
The Convention on Cluster Munitions bans the production, use, stockpiling, and transfer of cluster weapons after it was adopted at a conference in Ireland in 2008.
The Convention has been signed by 108 countries and has been ratified by 38 states.
Britain, Germany, and France are among the signatories.
However, the US, Israel, China, and Russia, which are thought to account for the huge bulk of the estimated one billion bomblet global stockpile, have rejected the treaty so far.
Israel’s use of cluster bombs during its 33-day war on Lebanon in 2006 was prompted talks to ban the bombs. The UN estimated that Israel dropped four million cluster bombs onto civilian areas in southern Lebanon.
Amnesty International said on Sunday the global ban marked the most groundbreaking disarmament and humanitarian treaty in over a decade.
“This treaty is a crucial step towards protecting civilians, during and after armed conflict, from this cruel and indiscriminate weapon,” said Sauro Scarpellli, Amnesty International weapons campaigner.
Cluster bombs, which can contain hundreds of bomblets, pose risks to civilians both during and after attacks. Unexploded bomblets can kill or maim civilians, many of them children, long after a conflict is over.
The bombs have been in use since the 1960s, dropped on countries around the world, with a lasting legacy in places including Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.
The United States and Britain also dropped the bombs over Iraq in 2003.