15 April 2011

CMC Newsletter March 2011

CMC Newsletter March 2011 Handicap International give a demonstration of UXO clearance in Würzburg’s main park. Photo credit: Eva Maria Fischer(Read story in campaign and country updates section below)1. INTERNATIONAL NEWSPortugal, Mozambique and Lithuania raise the number of ratifications to 55 The Portuguese Republic, the Republic of Mozambique and the Republic of Lithuania ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 9, 14 and 24 March 2011 respectively, raising the number of ratifications to 55. For all three, the treaty will enter into force nationally on 1 September 2011 when they will become States Parties fully bound by the Convention’s provisions. This means more than half of the 108 signatory states to the Convention have now ratified. With Portugal and Lithuania being members of both NATO and the EU, both bodies now have more than half of their members’ party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.Portugal, Mozambique and Lithuania all signed the Convention on 3 December 2008 and all participated in the Oslo process. Portugal has stockpiled cluster munitions in the past but completed destruction of its BL-755 weapons in July 2010. Lithuania is not believed to possess a stockpile and has stated that it has never used, produced or transferred cluster munitions. Unexploded cluster submunitions have been found in some locations in Mozambique over the years though it is not known to what extent the county has been contaminated.To read more information on these three ratifications visit:Portugal: http://www.stopclustermunitions.org/news/?id=3063Mozambique: http://www.stopclustermunitions.org/news/?id=3070Lithuania: http://www.stopclustermunitions.org/news/?id=3103Cluster Munition Coalition raises concerns over CCW draft protocolA number of Cluster Munition Coalition campaigners attended the year’s second session of the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) which took place in Geneva from 28 March – 1 April 2011 where States Party to the CCW gathered to discuss a draft protocol (CCW/GGE/2011-II/2) on cluster munitions and its submission for adoption as a legal instrument at the Review Conference in November.Although the mandate given to the GGE is "to address urgently the humanitarian impact of cluster munitions…" the text developed so far would mean weaker protection for civilians in the future. There are two main concerns that this draft Protocol might mean weaker protection for civilians:Firstly, the Protocol may facilitate the use of cluster munitions by serving as a shield against the political cost and stigma that results from these weapons already being subject to a comprehensive prohibition in international law (the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions). Further, since the Protocol is weaker than the national standards that certain stockpilers not party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, such as the US, already have in place, its adoption could be used as a basis for relaxing these nationalcommitments.Secondly, by setting a precedent in international law for new instruments that are weaker than established legal protections, this would break with the long-standing tradition of international humanitarian law (IHL) as a progressive effort to protect people from the scourge of war. Such a precedent could be taken up not only for other weapon systems but also for other practices that are considered abhorrent.A number of pro-Convention on Cluster Munitions states, in particular Austria, Mexico, and Norway, spoke out over the course of the week to challenge the humanitarian impact of the current protocol and its compatibility with the standards set by the Convention on Cluster Munitions.However, a number of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, including France, the UK, and Germany, along with Australia and Ireland in their respective roles as Friends of the Chair, continued to engage in CCW deal-making behavior and appeared to be working actively towards the achievement of a protocol in November which, as currently drafted, would anticipate and even facilitate the future use of cluster munitions banned by the Convention on Cluster Munitions.The Cluster Munition Coalition called on the CCW to drop this proposal, and call an end to negotiations in November at the Review Conference. Over the years, the CCW has proven it is not capable of adequately addressing this issue with the urgency with which it ought to be dealt, while in stark contrast, the Convention on Cluster Munitions has already entered into force and is already making clear progress to address the deadly impact of cluster munitions.A new text of the draft protocol will be prepared and distributed by the Chair for consideration in advance of the third session which will take place in August.To read more about the Cluster Munition Coalitions activities at the CCW in March visit: http://www.stopclustermunitions.org/news/?id=31082. CAMPAIGN AND COUNTRY UPDATESAustralia: Since legislation to ratify the Convention on Cluster Munitions was introduced into the Australian Parliament in late October 2010, CMC Australia (CMCA) has been campaigning to strengthen the text’s stance on the key issues of interoperability, foreign transit and stockpile and disinvestment. A number of organisations made written submissions to the Senate Committee of Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, which has been considering the draft legislation, before oral submissions arguing for changes to the text were made at a public hearing.A Senate report, tabled late on Friday 25 March, contained only a single recommendation and that was for the Senate to pass the legislation without amendment, rejecting the proposed changes made.CMCA carried out a number of campaign activities including meeting with senators and MPs, writing letters, developing campaign materials and using the CMCA website (www.cmcAustralia.org) and Twitter (#fixthebill). An accompanying media campaign has secured significant media coverage by reaching out to print, radio and TV outlets, resulting in radio interviews, newspaper columns and the publishing of letters and opinion pieces, an appearance on a TV talk show and on-line exposure. A high-profile campaign is now planned for early May before the Senate debates on the bill. Tentative plans include a ten day visit by Afghani Ban Advocate Ghulam Habib Soraj, seminars and workshops, receptions and events such as dinners and wheelchair basketball games involving well-known personalities and politicians. CMCA still hopes to be able to hold the government accountable and achieve strong legislation that reflects the intent and spirit of the Convention.Contact: Lorel Thomas, CMCA: lorelt@optusnet.com.auBosnia and Herzegovina: To mark International Women’s Day on 8 March, Landmine Survivors Initiatives (LSI) and the association of Disabled Persons "UDAS" Banja Luka organized an art exhibition by female artists, including some with disabilities. Entitled "Equality", the exhibition showcased the creative potentials of female artists by displaying artworks created at the Balkana Regional Art Colony which has been held on Lake Balkana near Mrkonjic Grad for the last six years.Designed as a manifestation of culture and education, the exhibition aimed to contribute to breaking down prejudices; raise general public awareness of the creative potential and rights of persons with disabilities in Bosnia and Herzegovina; and promote equal opportunities and the full inclusion of this marginalized group into society. "We are using this opportunity to showcase our artworks to the general public but, more importantly, we want to spread the message of equal participation and value the contribution of women with and without disabilities to the development of our society" said Biljana Nedic, an artist with a disability, in her opening speech.Additionally, LSI participated at a roundtable event on "empowerment and gender equality as the core values of the human rights system", hosted by the Ministry of Labor and Protection of Veterans and Disabled Persons of Republika Srpska and the Gender Center of Republika Srpska.Contact: Ramiz Becirovic, Landmine Survivors Initiatives Bosnia and Herzegovina: rbecirovic@ipm-lsi.org Germany: Every year in Würzburg, one of the most heavily bombed cities in Germany during the Second World War; churches hold large events to remember the victims of past and current conflicts. Handicap International (HI) was invited to participate and gave a demonstration of a clearance operation in the main city park in front of nearly 100 people. In the evening, HI gave a talk on cluster munitions in Lao PDR and "Facing Finance" presented a new campaign calling for ethical investments. Contact: Dr Eva Maria Fischer, Handicap International: efischer@handicap-international.deIraq: Moaffak Alkhajafi from the Iraqi Association of Disability Organizations (IADO) joined representatives from 42 other countries at the World Handicapped Symposium and Workshop in Istanbul from 4 to 6 March, organised by the World Handicapped Foundation. The international conference was opened by Turkish president Abdullah Gül and on the second day Ahmet Davuto?lu, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, encouraged people with disabilities to play a key role in advocating for their rights through the international union. In his speech, Mr Moaffak Alkhafaji spoke on the need for Iraq and Turkey to operate closely in approaching UXO clearance.Contact: Moaffak Alkhajafi, IADO: maffak62@yahoo.com CMC Campainer Moaffak Alkhajafi speaks onstage at the World Handicapped Symposium in Istanbul from 4 to 6 March. Photo credit: Moaffak AlkhfajiNepal: Ban Landmines Campaign Nepal (NCBL) and Women Development Society (WODES) jointly organized a workshop titled "Women with Disabilities in the 21st Century" on 8 March, the date of the 100th International Women's Day. Many issues affecting women with disabilities were discussed, including the rights of women with disabilities in conventions, national laws and declarations, and recommendations to improve the status of women with disabilities in the 21st century.On 1 March, NCBL celebrated International Wheelchair Day by sending letters, post cards and posters titled "Ban all Indiscriminate and Inhuman Weapons: Access the Treaty, Protect the Civilians and Assist the Victims" to all Constituent Assembly members.Contact: Purna Chitrakar, NCBL: ncbl@mail.com.npNetherlands: On 22 March, a follow-up debate took place in the Dutch Senate on two motions that were presented during the debate on 18 January, one which calls for a prohibition on demonstrable direct investments the other for a general prohibition on the transit of cluster munitions.During the debate, senators stated that they read a prohibition on direct investments in the article 1 (1) c prohibition on assistance. The Minister of Finance proposed to ask the Council of State for advice on the issue on whether article 1(1)c applied to States Parties or anyone on Dutch territory. The Minister of Finance said that he would consider the advice binding and expected that it could be available within a very short period of time. In addition, the minister declared, with regard to article 1 (1) c, that direct investment is prohibited for the Dutch state.With regard to transit, the government declared itself a proponent of a de facto prohibition on transit but stated that an exception will be made for NATO allies based on the obligations that come from the NATO Status of Forces. It was stated that this exception only applies to NATO allies and that the Netherlands will communicate to its allies through diplomatic channels that it does not appreciate the transit of cluster munitions. The promise was made to increase the monitoring of transit and conduct an evaluation after two years. If there has been no de facto prohibition on transit in practice, a clear prohibition will be reconsidered.Contact: Miriam Struyk, IKV Pax Christi, struyk@ikvpaxchristi.nlUSA: PSALM (Proud Students Against Landmines and Cluster Bombs), members of the West Virginia Campaign to Ban landmines and Cluster Bombs, were chosen as one of 12 Catholic schools programs nationally for the "Catholic Schools of Tomorrow Award". They are featured in the March issue of Today’s Catholic Teacher and will receive the award in April at a ceremony in New Orleans.On 1 March, PSALM released 50 balloons marking the anniversary of the Mine Ban Treaty entry into force and their own founding. Each balloon carried a message of hope that the United States and countries everywhere will "GET ON BOARD" and ban the indiscriminate weapons so that children the world over can "walk without fear" in a world free of landmines and cluster bombs. PSALM co-founder, Ryan Lynch, who attended an ICBL conference in Des Moines, Iowa in 1999, joined the students as an honoured guest at the 2011 Balloon Release. Students celebrated their own 12th "birthday" with a cake that included a message that "It is TIME for the U.S. to GET ON BOARD".Contact: Nora Sheets, PSALM/WVCBL: noracat@yahoo.comPSALM students release balloons to celebrate the anniversary of their organisation’s founding.Photo Credit: Nora Sheets3. DISINVESTMENTStop Explosive Investments: 25 May action dayOn 25 May the CMC is holding a global day of action to stop explosive investments. On this day IKV Pax Christi and Netwerk Vlaanderen’s new version of the report "Worldwide investments in cluster munitions" will be launched in Brussels, Belgium. Take part in this action day and call on governments to pass legislation to prohibit investment in cluster munition producers. It will also be an opportunity to engage with the financial sector to encourage them to disinvest from companies involved in the production of cluster munitions and to work with government and civil society to put policies into practice.Take Action on 25 May:• Contact government officials and urge them to make a statement on this day committing to pass legislation to ban investments in cluster munition producers. The CMC will provide template statements and letters• Meet with members of parliament and urge them to table parliamentary questions on banning investments in cluster munition producers• Meet with banks to urge them to develop a comprehensive policy against investment in cluster bomb producers• Hold a press conference and/or issue a press release using the information from the updated report "Worldwide investments in cluster munitions"• Plan a public action to raise awareness about investments in cluster munition producersYou can contact the authors of the updated report to find out about new research on investments in your country – Roos Boer (IKV Pax Chrsiti) boer@ikvpaxchristi.nl and Esther Vandenbrouke (Netwerk Vlaanderen) esther.vandenbroucke@netwerkvlaanderen.beInformation on the global day of action can be found here www.stopexplosiveinvestment.org.Materials will be made available for the action day including: updated template letters to governments and parliamentarians, template statements for governments, a campaign leaflet and an updated disinvestment campaign guide.Please contact the CMC to share information about your plans for the global day to stop explosive investmentsContact: Kimberly Brown, CMC staff: Kimberly@stopclustermunitions.org4. TAKE ACTIONParliamentary action at the Inter-Parliamentary Union General Assembly in PanamaCMC will participate in the 124th General Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Panama City from 15-20 April 2011. CMC will urge participating parliamentarians to ensure their governments ratify or accede to the Convention on Cluster Munitions if they have not joined the treaty. Take action by finding out which parliamentarians from your country will be attending this event and encourage them to promote the Convention on Cluster Munitions and engage in activities organised by the Cluster Munition Coalition.CMC will carry out a number of activities at the event including:• Holding briefings for parliamentarians• Providing a statement in the general debate• Presenting to the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) committee• Sharing materials at the CMC stallPlease inform the CMC which parliamentarians will be attending this meeting so that we can reach out to them at the General Assembly.Contact: Kimberly Brown, CMC staff: Kimberly@stopclustermunitions.org1 August 2011: Celebrate the first anniversary of the Convention on Cluster Munitions’ entry into forceOn 1 August 2011, the CMC will mark the first anniversary of the Convention’s entry into force with campaign actions worldwide, calling on all states to accede to, ratify and implement the Convention on Cluster Munitions and will mark this day with a sports theme. Campaigners are encouraged to organise or participate in sporting events including sports events for people with disabilities, as a way of celebrating the anniversary of the Convention’s entry into force and urging governments to join and implement the Convention. A logo and campaign slogan on this theme will be developed that can be used throughout 2011 and in particular on the 1 August campaign action day. An action alert on this day of action will soon be shared with the campaign. We welcome your input and ideas on a campaign slogan!Further information and campaign materials will be made available on www.august1.org in the coming monthsContact: Kimberly Brown, CMC staff: Kimberly@stopclustermunitions.orgUrge your government to or ratify or accede to the Convention on Cluster MunitionsThe Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) is calling on signatories to ratify the Convention and on non-signatories to accede to the Convention. Contact: Laura Cheeseman, CMC staff: laura@stopclustermunitions.org5. MEDIAMedia overviewThe main cluster munitions-related news this month came from Australia, where weak legislation to ratify and implement the Convention on Cluster Munitions is pending. CMC campaigners in Australia appeared on radio and television programmes as well as collaborated with external experts and a former Australian Prime Minister to publish op-eds pointing out loopholes in the draft legislation.Thanks in large part to the online mobilisation work of CMC campaigners, a news video CMC produced with the help of Samantha Bolton and CoJo Productions won the first-ever CNN iReport Community Choice Awards. The video, "Clearing cluster bombs on the Ho Chi Minh Trail," was filmed, produced and posted from Lao PDR during the 1MSP in November 2010. Stories also appeared in Canada, where Jody Williams blasted the governement for caving in to US pressure on its draft implementation bill; in Lebanon, where more cluster bomblets were found and destroyed; and in Chile, where the Wall Street Journal published a profile of one-time cluster munition manufacturer Carlos Cardoen, quoting CMC campaigners on his lurid background.Contact: Kimberly Brown, CMC staff, kimberly@stopclustermunitions.orgMedia highlights of the monthThe Guardian (UK), 21 March 2011Libya: military action necessary, legal and right, says David Cameronhttp://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/mar/21/libya-military-action-necessary-david-cameronUN News Centre, 18 March 2011UN seeks $498 million for annual mine clearance activitieshttp://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=37810&Cr=landmine&Cr1=The Australian, 16 March 2011Lame stance on cluster bombshttp://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/lame-stance-on-cluster-bombs/story-e6frg6zo-1226022068362Crikey (Australia), 16 March 2011Gillard’s about to bomb out where Rudd didn’thttp://www.crikey.com.au/2011/03/16/gillard%E2%80%99s-about-to-bomb-out-where-rudd-didn%E2%80%99t/CNN (USA), 15 March 2011CNN iReport Community Choice Awards – Clearing cluster bombs on the Ho Chi Minh Trailhttp://ireportawards.cnn.com/EFE (Spain), 15 March 2011El Congreso igualará la prohibición legal de las bombas racimo a la de minashttp://www.elcorreo.com/agencias/20110315/mas-actualidad/politica/congreso-igualara-prohibicion-legal-bombas_201103151834.htmlNineMSN (Australia), 11 March 2011ADF rejects cluster bombs, but not by UShttp://news.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=8222640&mch=snlink&cmp=art_8222640The Toronto Star (Canada), 8 March 2011Nobel laureate accuses Tories of delaying cluster-bomb treatyhttp://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/950754--nobel-laureate-accuses-tories-of-delaying-cluster-bomb-treatyStreetFootballWorld.com, 8 March 2011Spirit of Soccer comes to Laoshttp://www.streetfootballworld.org/news-center/newsfolder/spirit-of-soccer-comes-to-laosThe Daily Star (Lebanon), 7 March 2011‘Freedom is a beautiful thing’: south Lebanon’s shepherdshttp://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=1&categ_id=1&article_id=125673#axzz1FvGLI0Z8ABC Radio Australia, 7 March 2011Australia warned over 'weak' bomb banhttp://www.radioaustralia.net.au/connectasia/stories/201103/s3156973.htmThe Wall Street Journal (USA), 5 March 2011In Chile, a shot at atonementhttp://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704615504576172592134384206.htmlABC Radio Australia, 4 March 2011Australia's cluster bombs law has loopholes, say criticshttp://www.radioaustralia.net.au/asiapac/stories/201103/s3155818.htmEl Universal (Venezuela), 4 March 2011ONU destruye más bombas de racimo en el Saharahttp://internacional.eluniversal.com/2011/03/04/onu-destruye-mas-bombas-de-racimo-en-el-sahara.shtmlThe Age (Australia), 4 March 2011Super funds want to ban the bombhttp://www.theage.com.au/national/super-funds-want-to-ban-the-bomb-20110303-1bggs.htmlKataeb (Lebanon), 4 March 2011Military expert detonates two cluster bombs in Hadathhttp://kataeb.org/EN/News/65591The Bangkok Post (Thailand), 4 March 2011Both sides not firing, just reinforcinghttp://www.bangkokpost.com/opinion/opinion/224494/both-sides-not-firing-just-reinforcingABC "The Drum" (Australia), 3 March 2011John Rodsted interviewed on weak national implementing legislation in Australiahttp://www.abc.net.au/news/video/2011/03/03/3154620.htmThe Guardian (UK), 3 March 2011Laos: small steps forwardhttp://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/poverty-matters/2011/mar/03/laos-resources-bombs-education-healthOnline Opinion (Australia), 1 March 2011Will Australia truly commit to the eradication of cluster munitions?http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=116736. UPCOMING EVENTS2011 Global DatesApr. 4: International Day for Mine ActionApril 15-20: 124th IPU General Assembly, PanamaMay 9-13: UN Programme of Action on Small Arms experts meeting in NYMay 25: Global Day of Action to Stop Explosive Investments/report launchJun. 20-24: Mine Ban Treaty intersessional meetings in Geneva, SwitzerlandJun. 27-30: Convention on Cluster Munitions intersessional meetings in GenevaAug 1: Convention on Cluster Munitions 1st anniversary of EIFAug. 12: Remembrance action and one-month countdown to 2MSPSep 7-9: Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities 4th conference in NYSep: 12-16: Convention on Cluster Munitions 2nd MSP in Beirut, LebanonSep. 21: International Peace DayOct. 3: Two-month countdown to 11MSPOct: First Committee (disarmament) of 66th UN General Assembly in NYNov. 14-25: Convention on Conventional Weapons 4th Review Conference in GenevaNov. 28-Dec. 2: Mine Ban Treaty 11th MSP in Phnom Penh, CambodiaDec. 3: International Day of Persons with DisabilitiesDec. 3: Three-year anniversary of the Convention on Cluster Munitions Signing ConferenceDec. 10: 10 December - Human Rights Day 20112011 National and Regional DatesMar/Apr: Inter-Arab Parliamentarian Union annual meeting in Doha, Qatar (Ghassan)May: Central Asia, regional workshop on Victim Assistance, Tajikistan (Elke/Camille)May: Regional meeting on CCM in Nigeria – tentative (Mimidoo)Jul: African Union meetingAug: Iraqi Alliance for Disabilities annual conference in Baghdad (Muoffak)Dec: International Conference on AIDS in Africa incl. CRPD in Ethiopia (Daniel)