DUBLIN (AFP) - A landmark international convention banning cluster munitions was formally adopted by some 111 countries here Friday, in a move supporters hope will stigmatise the lethal weapons as much as landmines. Diplomats adopted the treaty without objection after 12 days of robust negotiations, outlawing the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of cluster munitions, helping victims and clearing contaminated areas. The treaty requires the destruction of stockpiled munitions within eight years - though it leaves the door open for future, more precise generations of cluster bombs that pose less harm to civilians. The convention is due to be signed in Oslo on December 2-3. States then have to ratify the pact. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon hailed it as "a new international standard that will enhance the protection of civilians, strengthen human rights and improve prospects for development." Politicians and campaigners described the move as hugely significant, despite the absence from the talks of major users and producers of the weapons like the United States, China, Russia, Israel, India and Pakistan. But supporters said they hoped the treaty would pressure them to change track. "We are not stigmatising diplomatically other states which have not signed," Norwegian FM Jonas Gahr Stoere, whose country spearheaded the talks, said in Oslo after meeting his British counterpart David Miliband. "They have to take their decisions but the door is open. We have created a framework which is now allowing countries to join and I hope to see that." Slovenia, which currently holds the rotating European Union presidency, said the new convention would have "a tremendous positive influence on the ground and does respond to the calls made by victims for a safer and better world". Irish Foreign Minister Micheal Martin said that "a new international standard has been established and countries will, over time, follow that". And Miliband, whose country delighted campaigners by dropping objections to the draft treaty earlier this week, added: "It's up to us to make sure it generates momentum in the process." The United States has defended its non-attendance, saying it was "deeply concerned" about the humanitarian impact of cluster bombs and all weapons of war, despite "disagreements" about the best way forward. Cluster munitions are among the weapons posing the gravest dangers to civilians, especially in heavily-bombed countries like Laos, Vietnam and Afghanistan. Dropped from planes or fired from artillery, they explode in mid-air, randomly scattering bomblets, with many civilians having been killed or maimed by their indiscriminate, wide area effect. They also pose a lasting threat as many bomblets fail to explode on impact. Norwegian Deputy Defence Minister Espen Barth Eide told AFP that countries wanted their military actions to be seen as legitimate, and compared the potential impact of the Dublin text to the 1997 Ottawa Treaty on landmines. "With the landmine treaty, the US did not sign it but we don't really care because they behave as if they have signed it because they recognise they are morally outlawed," he said. The Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC), an umbrella group of non-governmental organisations, said it would now be "politically impossible" for countries to use such weapons without a backlash. Steve Goose, from Human Rights Watch, said they would now be watching closely to ensure signatories do not help those countries which have not signed and that they reject foreign stockpiling on their soil.