Impressive Progress on Total Ban on Cluster Bombs

Rapid destruction of stockpiles is saving lives

(London) Sepetember 6, 2012 —  Governments that have joined the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions have destroyed nearly 750,000 cluster munitions containing 85 million submunitions to date, according to Cluster Munition Monitor 2012, a global report released today in London.

“The impressive number of stockpiled cluster bombs destroyed under the Convention on Cluster Munitions demonstrates just how committed governments are to rapidly implementing this treaty,” said Mary Wareham of Human Rights Watch, final editor of Cluster Munition Monitor 2012.  “It is proving to be a milestone in humanitarian disarmament diplomacy, and the hold-out states that have not yet joined need to get on the right side of history,” Wareham said.

Cluster Munition Monitor 2012 is being launched by the international Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) in advance of the convention’s Third Meeting of States Parties, which opens in Oslo, Norway on Tuesday, 11 September. A total of 111 countries have joined the Convention, of which 75 have ratified or acceded, becoming full States Parties.

The report cites the serious allegations of new use of cluster munitions in Syria and Sudan as the most disturbing developments of the year. The allegations have not yet been confirmed, but are considered credible by the Monitor. Neither state has joined the ban convention.

The Convention on Cluster Munitions, which entered into force on 1 August 2010, comprehensively prohibits the use, production, transfer, and stockpiling of cluster munitions. It also requires destruction of stockpiled cluster munitions within eight years, clearance of cluster munition remnants within 10 years, and assistance to victims, including those killed or injured by submunitions as well as their families and affected communities.  Read the rest of this entry »

Thirteenth Anniversary of the Mine Ban Treaty: What Is President Obama Waiting For?

(Washington, D.C.) MARCH 1, 2012 — As the Mine Ban Treaty celebrates its thirteenth anniversary March 1, the United States Campaign to Ban Landmines (USCBL) once again calls on President Obama to finally announce the conclusion of the landmine policy review and join the treaty without delay.

The Obama administration initiated a comprehensive interagency review of its landmine policy in late 2009. Over the past two years, Obama and his administration have received letters of support for the Mine Ban Treaty from 68 Senators, nearly 100 leaders of prominent U.S. nongovernmental organizations, key NATO allies, retired senior military officers, 16 Nobel Peace Prize recipients, landmine survivors and countless citizens from around the world.

“The U.S. has still not announced its decision to join the Mine Ban Treaty,” said Zach Hudson, USCBL Coordinator. “U.S. citizens, landmine survivors and campaigners from every corner of the globe have been calling on the U.S. to join the treaty for the last fifteen years. The world has waited long enough.”

Read the rest of this entry »

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U.S. declines to join treaty banning landmines

CNN reports the U.S. will not join the treaty formally banning landmines. “This administration undertook a policy review and we decided our landmine policy remains in effect,” a State Department spokesman said in response to a question. “We made our policy review and we determined that we would not be able to meet our national defense needs nor our security commitments to our friends and allies if we sign this convention.”

Reuters notes that

The treaty bans the use, stockpiling, production or transfer of antipersonnel mines. It has been endorsed by 156 countries, but the United States, Russia, China and India have not adopted it.

U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, a leading advocate for the treaty, called the decision “a default of U.S. leadership.”

The U.S. decision comes just before a review conference on the 10-year-old Mine Ban Treaty is due to get under way in Cartegena, Colombia. The treaty is widely credited with reducing landmine deaths and injuries around the world.

Take Action here, and urge the White House to change their position and formally adopt the treaty.

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.