02 March 2011

Netherlands ratifies cluster bomb ban treaty

The Netherlands signs the Convention on Cluster Munitions at the Oslo Signing Ceremony in December 2008. Photo credit: CMCFormer cluster bomb user and producer shuns the weapon(London, 2 March 2011) - The Kingdom of the Netherlands ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 23 February 2011. The treaty will enter into force nationally on 1 August 2011, making the Netherlands the 52nd State Party."We are thrilled that the Netherlands has ratified the international treaty banning cluster bombs,"said Miriam Struyk a CMC leader and senior policy advisor at IKV Pax Christi, which has pushed to ban cluster munitions in the Netherlands since 2003. "As a country that used cluster munitions in the past, it's encouraging news that Dutch stockpiles of the weapon will now be destroyed. The Netherlands should play a leading role in bringing more countries on board the treaty and ensuring military allies never use the weapons. It should also remain one of the biggest donors for clearance of cluster munition-contaminated land."The 2008 Convention comprehensively bans the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster munitions, sets strict deadlines for clearance of contaminated land and destruction of stockpiles of the weapon, and includes groundbreaking provisions for assistance to victims and affected communities. A total of 108 countries have signed the treaty, which entered into force as binding international law on 1 August 2010. Its historic First Meeting of States Parties was held in November 2010 in Lao PDR – the most heavily cluster-bombed country in the world.In the past, the Netherlands has produced, imported and reportedly exported cluster munitions. It used cluster munitions as part of NATO operations in Kosovo/Serbia in 1999. The Netherlands is in the process of destroying its stockpile of the weapon and has said it will finish ahead of the eight-year deadline under the Convention. Since signing the Convention in December 2008, the Netherlands has supported its humanitarian aims and committed to begin to work on its treaty obligations.In March 2007 a Dutch documentary on investments in cluster munitions producers by Dutch financial institutions sparked public outrage and led to a Parliamentary debate on the issue. Several Dutch financial institutions subsequently banned investment in companies that produce cluster munitions, but the Dutch government has yet to pass legislation to ban such investments, despite a majority of Parliamentarians voting in favor. An October 2009 report by IKV Pax Christi and Netwerk Vlaanderen on worldwide investments in cluster munitions producers coincided with the launch of a CMC campaign promoting disinvestment from such companies.“The Dutch government should help to stop the flow of funding to cluster munitions producers worldwide by banning all investments in those companies,” said Struyk.The Netherlands is the 12th European Union member state to ratify the Convention - 20 out of 27 EU members have signed. In July 2010, the European Parliament passed a resolution urging all EU members to get on board the treaty “as a matter of urgency.”