Ban the "Bombies" (World)
The 1997 Oslo Treaty outlawed anti-personnel land mines, both smart (timed for automatic explosion) and dumb (ready forever) varying in size from a woman's compact to a dinner plate, but filled with lethal explosives.
In February, 2007, the government of Norway expressed a similar concern, addressed to a new, easily mass-produced weapon of war, the cluster bomb (bombies), as small as a battery for a hand-carried flashlight.
Norway asked governments to prohibit the manufacture, use, transportation, and stockpiling of bombies "that cause unacceptable harm to civilians." Often-but not exclusively-employed in developing countries engaged in civil strife, no reliable records of emplacements have been established or maintained. When the NATO attacks on Kosovo occurred, these bombs were launched from aircraft in large canisters and records of detailed dispositions could not be made.
The Norwegian initiative resulted in negotiations in Dublin in May, 2008, which produced a 26-article international "Convention on Cluster Munitions." It will be opened for signature in Oslo in December 2008, with over 125 countries committed to signature. The government of the United States has expressed vigorous opposition to these international agreements.
It has treated both weapons as relatively inexpensive weapons of opportunity, fitting in with the historic military goal of destroying an enemy's will to continue in battle by the most economical means. One goal is to avoid the prospect of large scale warfare and the risks to U.S. military personnel in the event of extended combat.
The United States has sought to obtain exceptions from the restrictive terms of the two agreements. Such claims were denied by the negotiating countries. This led the United States to voice the prospect of recriminations against countries rejecting its claims.
Ironically, the Department of State's budget calls for substantial monetary support for mine- and bomb- clearing procedures, with subventions being made to private groups engaged in humanitarian, educational, and operational activities. Such funding has been supplemental to major historic efforts in the United States on the part of committed organizations seeking the elimination and removal of such devices. Their efforts have been consolidated under the U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines, which since 2007 has been headed the United Nations Association of the United States of America. That organization has given active support to an Adopt-A-Minefield Program engaged in eliminating such weapons in about a dozen countries.
Members of Congress in 2007 proposed a "Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act" dealing with limiting the "use, sale, and transfer of cluster munitions." It was opposed by the Bush Administration.
4-1-1: A forum to consider such issues has been organized by the United Nations Association and UNESCO of Santa Barbara, supported by other Santa Barbara public interest groups, to meet at the Faulkner Gallery, Santa Barbara Central Library, 40 East Anapamu Street at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, November 13. Featured will be a film, "Bombies," produced in Laos by the government of Canada, the MacArthur Foundation, and the Rogers Documentary Fund.
Opening remarks will by given by Carl Q. Christol. Refreshments will be hosted by Mrs. Catherine Dishion, president of the Santa Barbara chapter of USA-UNA and UNESCO.
For more information, please visit landmines.org and unasb.org.
Carl Q. Christol is a distinguished emeritus professor, International Law and Political Science, University of Southern California, an expert on the laws and customs of war. He currently resides in Carpinteria.
Von: 05.11.2008, by Carl Q. Christol, www.independent.com