TAKE ACTION! JRS/USA calls on Congress to end the U.S. use of Cluster Bombs

Ask your Senator to co-sponsor the Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act

Today the Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act will be re-introduced in Congress by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. This bill would prohibit all use of cluster munitions in areas where civilians are normally present.

It would also prohibit the use of unreliable cluster munitions – those most dangerous to civilians – by requiring that the sub-munitions of a cluster weapon have a 99 percent or greater functioning rate.

Cluster bombs cover a large area with deadly shrapnel at the time of use and then leave behind a widely dispersed minefield of “dud” cluster sub-munitions.

These duds continue to kill and maim civilians long after the fighting ends. Children and farmers are the most common victims.

Ninety-five countries – including our closest allies – recently completed and signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions, banning further production, use, export and stockpiling of these weapons.

Despite growing international rejection of these weapons, President Bush did not sign this treaty, and the Pentagon responded by announcing last summer that it will continue to use and, if permitted by Congress, export these weapons for another 10 years. After that time, it will phase them out – due to humanitarian concerns.

We believe that the suffering to civilians caused by the use of cluster munitions must stop now, not in 2018!

This week, leaders of 67 national organizations – including Jesuit Refugee Service/USA – sent a letter to President Obama, calling for a review of U.S. policy regarding this treaty. Meanwhile, Congress has already banned exports of cluster munitions unless they meet the conditions laid out in this bill. We now ask Congress to ban their use by U.S. forces in situations where they will subsequently cause injury to civilians.

Please write to your Senator to urge him or her to co-sponsor this legislation. By doing so, you will help to protect civilians from inadvertent – but readily foreseeable – harm and urge the U.S. to live up to its humanitarian traditions.

What you can do:

Urge your elected officials to press the Pentagon to ban cluster bombs.

Sample letter (find your Senator’s address here)

Dear Senator –

On February 11, a group of your colleagues reintroduced the Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act. This bill would prohibit all use of cluster munitions in areas where civilians are normally present. It would also prohibit the use of unreliable cluster munitions – those most dangerous to civilians – by requiring that the sub-munitions of a cluster weapon have a 99 percent or greater functioning rate.

At present, the U.S. military does not plan to phase out cluster munitions for another ten years. This is far too long for the suffering and death caused to innocent civilians, many of them children, by these indiscriminate and long lasting weapons to be allowed to continue.

As a concerned constituent, I am writing to ask you to become a co-sponsor of this bill, so as to save innocent lives and to uphold the U.S. tradition of humanitarian leadership through this important initiative.

Thank you for your attention to my request

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