26 November 2011

US led attempt to allow cluster bomb use is rejected at UN negotiations

Branislav Kapetanovic, CMC spokesperson at the negotiations in Geneva. Photo credit: Gemima Harvey Campaigners call on remaining states to join international ban on these weapons (Geneva, November 25, 2011) – An attempt by the United States and other remaining producers and stockpilers of cluster munitions to push through a weak new law which would have allowed these indiscriminate weapons to be used, has failed. Over fifty states at the United Nations negotiations rejected outright the cynical attempt to give legal cover to use these weapons in the future. This ends four years of negotiations on this issue."This was not a diplomatic game. It was about saving a great number of lives – the outright rejection of weaker standards shows that small and medium size states in partnership with the UN, ICRC and civil society can set the agenda in international politics" said Grethe Ostern, Policy Adviser, Mine Action Department, Norwegian Peoples Aid, Cluster Munition Coalition member. The failure to set up a weaker alternative to the existing ban strengthens the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions which like the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty prohibits the use, production and transfer of an entire category of weapons and promotes the rights of victims and survivors. The Cluster Munition Coalition calls on all remaining countries to join the Convention on Cluster Munitions."The message from the failed efforts today is clear – cluster bombs are indiscriminate, kill long after they are dropped and are illegal. Countries like China, India, Israel, Russia and the US who say they are seriously concerned about the humanitarian impact, should go home and immediately begin destroying their stockpiles" said Amy Little, Campaign Manager for the Cluster Munition Coalition.The US was the key promoter of the proposed law. Opposition was led by Norway, Austria, and Mexico, with powerful support from the Cluster Munition Coalition, the ICRC, and a large number of UN agencies, notably the UN Development Programme, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.The Convention on Cluster Munitions has been signed by 111 nations, including some of the biggest users, producers, and or stockpilers in recent decades, such as the United Kingdom, Germany, France, and the Netherlands. Twenty-two of the twenty-eight NATO members have joined the ban convention.