Cluster munitions bring harvest of death

Jesuit Refugee Service/USA supports the effort to ban cluster munitions.

Titus Peachey, director of peace education for the Mennonite Central Committee in Akron, Pa., and a former coordinator of the committee’s Cluster Bomb Removal Project in Laos, has written an op-ed in The Philadelphia Inquirer urging the United States to join any dozens of other countries around the world which have banned cluster munitions.

Cluster munitions are small bombs, or “bomblets,” that are dropped from a large shell or bomb casing. Since many of these bomblets did not blow up as designed, they turned large areas of Laos into a vast, unmapped mine field. Even today, some 35 years after the bombing ended, an average of 300 Lao villagers are injured or killed by these weapons each year.

Over the past 45 years, the use of these indiscriminate weapons has extended to more than 25 countries. While millions of dollars are spent each year to find and safely destroy them, their repeated use has created an economic and humanitarian disaster.

In response, many government leaders have decided to pick up pens. In December 2008, 94 countries gathered in Norway to sign a treaty – the Convention on Cluster Munitions – banning the production, transfer, stockpiling, and use of cluster munitions. The treaty’s signatories include many U.S. allies that have cluster munitions. Regrettably, though, the United States has joined Russia, China, Israel, Pakistan, and India in refusing to sign it.

The effort to ban cluster munitions parallels a similar effort to ban land mines, which led to a treaty in 1997. While 156 nations have now signed on to the Mine Ban Treaty, the United States continues to resist, joining other major military powers in refusing to agree to ban land mines.

Read the full piece here.

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