Opening the conference, Disarmament Minister Phil Goff said a strong declaration on cluster bombs at the conference would mark a pivotal step in getting the weapons banned.
More than half of the 76 states in the world that stockpile cluster munitions are taking part in the negotiations, along with a majority of the weapon producers.
However, major producers such as the US, Russia, China and Pakistan have not joined the process and have no observers at the conference.
Cluster bombs are built to explode above the ground, releasing thousands of bomblets primed to detonate on impact. But combat statistics show between 10 percent and 40 percent fail to go off and lie primed in the target area to kill and injure civilians.
UNICEF deputy executive director Hilde Frafjord Johnson, speaking on behalf of 14 United Nations entities that form the United Nations Mine Action Team, said the UN wanted cluster bombs banned.
She said the weapons had a horrendous humanitarian, development and human rights impact.
Ms Johnson said the extensive use of cluster munitions in southern Lebanon in 2006 was a tragic reminder of how they caused death and serious injury of civilians.
“Sometimes, the presence of unexploded sub-munitions forced populations out of their homes and prevented those already displaced from returning home to rebuild their lives and communities.”
Ms Johnson spoke of 12-year-old Hassan Hemadi, who in 2006 picked up an object outside his home in southern Lebanon while he was watering the family garden.
“‘I saw a metal object,”‘ Johnson said, quoting Hemadi.
“‘I did not know what it was and so I picked it up. I started playing with the ribbon on the end, twirling it around. Then I don’t know what happened, it exploded. Now I have lost the fingers on my hand.”
I had noted in an earlier post, Senator Clinton's vote against a ban on cluster bombs (and Senator Obama's vote for the ban) has grave repercussions for children around the world. This new report given in New Zealand at a conference to draft language for an international treaty banning the use of these weapons came out on Tuesday.