All Nations Urged to Sign Cluster Bomb Ban (World)


World-wide demonstration begins in biggest global week of action on cluster bombs


(28.10.2008)

Oct. 28, 2008 - Five weeks before a groundbreaking new treaty banning cluster bombs opens for signature in Oslo, campaigners across 71 countries are calling on all governments to put pen to paper and start saving lives, by joining the most significant disarmament and humanitarian treaty of the decade. Begun on October 27 and ending on November 2 campaigners from Afghanistan to Zambia are mobilizing in the world's biggest call to action on cluster bombs.

Worldwide campaigners will enact public action stunts, meet with governments, collect petitions and rally public support for the ban. In Germany, Japan, Lebanon, Mali, South Africa, Thailand and Turkey cluster bomb strikes will be simulated by lie-down protests in city centres. Campaign buses have set off on epic journeys across Europe, Thailand, the Philippines and Cambodia to raise awareness about the treaty. Over 1000 people have attended a concert in Laos, the most cluster bomb affected country in the world and in Bosnia and Herzegovina religious leaders from every major religion will meet to mobilize their faith networks in support of the treaty. A global animation has been launched across the worldwide web calling for people everywhere to sign the People's Treaty, the online petition to ban cluster bombs: www.stopclustermunitions.org/news/

Campaigners are calling on governments to use the global week of action to ban cluster bombs as a platform to openly declare they will sign the treaty on December 3rd 2008. One hundred and seven governments formally adopted the Convention on Cluster Munitions in Dublin on May 30th. These governments are being asked to keep their promises and sign the ban. Those who did not adopt the treaty in Dublin, including Afghanistan, Brazil, Iraq, Jordan and Thailand, are being urged to join the majority of the world's nations in consigning the weapon to history.

"We achieved this treaty by working in partnership with governments, organizations and the public around the world. The global action taking place this week sends a strong message to all countries that the ban on cluster bombs is a new international standard," says Thomas Nash, Coordinator, Cluster Munition Coalition, "Campaigners will be pushing hard this week to ensure all governments do the right thing and sign the treaty in December."

The signing will be one of the most significant political events of the year, with over 100 governments expected to attend, including heads of state and foreign ministers, UN representatives, cluster bomb victims and campaigners from around the world.

Cluster munitions are large weapons which are deployed from the air and from the ground and release up to hundreds of smaller submunitions. Submunitions released by airdropped cluster bombs are most often called "bomblets," while those delivered from the ground by artillery or rockets are usually referred to as "grenades."

Air-dropped or ground-launched, they cause two major humanitarian problems and risks to civilians. First, their widespread dispersal means they cannot distinguish between military targets and civilians so the humanitarian impact can be extreme, especially when the weapon is used in or near populated areas. Many submunitions fail to detonate on impact and become de facto antipersonnel mines killing and maiming people long after the conflict has ended. These duds are more lethal than antipersonnel mines; incidents involving submunition duds are much more likely to cause death than injury.

At least 15 countries have used cluster munitions: Eritrea, Ethiopia, France, Georgia, Israel, Morocco, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Russia (USSR), Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan, UK, US, and FR Yugoslavia. A small number of non-state armed groups have used the weapon (such as Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2006). Billions of submunitions are stockpiled by some 76 countries. A total of 34 states are known to have produced over 210 different types cluster munitions. More than two dozen countries have been affected by the use of cluster munitions including Afghanistan, Albania, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Chad, Croatia, DR Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Georgia, Grenada, Iraq, Israel, Kuwait, Laos, Lebanon, Montenegro, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Uganda, and Vietnam, as well as Chechnya, Falkland/Malvinas, Nagorno-Karabakh, and Western Sahara.

Simply put, cluster munitions kill and injure too many civilians. The weapon caused more civilian casualties in Iraq in 2003 and Kosovo in 1999 than any other weapon system. Cluster munitions stand out as the weapon that poses the gravest dangers to civilians since antipersonnel mines, which were banned in 1997. Yet there is currently no provision in international law to specifically address problems caused by cluster munitions. Israel's massive use of the weapon in Lebanon in August 2006 resulted in more than 200 civilian casualties in the year following the ceasefire and served as the catalyst that has propelled governments to attempt to secure a legally-binding international instrument tackling cluster munitions in 2008.

n February 2007, 46 governments met in Oslo to endorse a call by Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre to conclude a new legally binding instrument in 2008 that prohibits the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm to civilians and provide adequate resources to assist survivors and clear contaminated areas. Subsequent International Oslo Process meetings were held in Peru (May 2007), Austria (December 2007), and New Zealand (February 2008). 107 countries negotiated and adopted a treaty that bans cluster bombs and provides assistance to affected communities in May 2008 in Dublin.

States that adopted the Convention on Cluster Munitions (107):

Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Chad, Chile, Comoros, Republic of Congo, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Cote d'Ivoire, Croatia, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Holy See, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Lao PDR, Lebanon, Lesotho, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia (FYR), Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mexico, Moldova, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Timor-Leste, Togo, Uganda, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela and Zambia.

Von: 28.10.2008, by International Cluster Munition Coalition, www.yubanet.com

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