FRANCE. AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL AND HANDICAP INTERNATIONAL WELCOME THE PROHIBITION OF DIRECT AND INDIRECT FINANCING ON CLUSTER MUNITIONS
(Paris) July 6, 2010 - France announced today that direct and indirect financing of the production or trade of cluster munitions is forbidden by French law. Amnesty International France and Handicap International, who have campaigned for several years on this issue, welcome this prohibition.
On the occasion of the debate on the national implementation law of the Oslo Convention on cluster munitions at the French parliament, the government has officially declared that "any knowingly direct or indirect financial assistance, to a manufacturing or trading activity of cluster munitions would be considered as an assistance, encouragement or inducement falling within the scope of criminal law ". This declaration is the first statement specifying the prohibition of assistance stipulated by the Oslo Convention, and incorporated in the law.
Amnesty International France and Handicap International welcome the position taken by the government. Since 2006, the two associations have worked with French major financial groups to ensure that they stop any investments in cluster bombs producers. Following this campaign, many major financial groups had decided to implement a disinvestment policy.
"The French declaration is an important step for the actors involved in the fight against cluster bombs," said Thierry Philipponnat, Executive Board Member of Amnesty International France. "Indeed, the French government had always refused to specify that the prohibitions included in the Convention could be applied to any type of funding. This declaration will help to ensure that no one in France, small client or large shareholder investor, will financially contribute to the development of these inhumane weapons". France joins a list of countries that ban any investment in cluster bombs that includes Belgium, Luxembourg, New Zealand and soon Switzerland and Germany.
Other clarification requests on the draft bill issued by the two associations have been taken into account either by amendment to the text, or by formal declaration*. "By adopting strong interpretations in regards to the calls of NGOs, France is clearly committed to the implementation of the Convention", said Marion Libertucci advocacy officer on cluster munitions for Handicap International. "French positions, as a former producer and user of cluster munitions, should be an example for other countries. The prohibition of financing in the production of cluster munitions should contribute to the stigmatization of these weapons and prevent future victims. "
Both associations will stay mobilized to ensure the government will meet its commitments prohibiting cluster munitions, firstly by passing a dedicated law on and secondly by significantly increasing French funding for clearance and victims assistance.
Note: The Oslo Convention on cluster munitions, one of the most important disarmament treaties of the last decade, has been signed by 106 States and ratified by 37 states (including France). It prohibits the use, production, stockpiling and trade of cluster bombs, sets deadlines for clearance and stockpile destruction, and contains innovative measures to assist victims. The Oslo Convention will enter into force on 1 August, prior to the first meeting of States Parties in November in Laos, the country most affected by cluster bombs in the world.
* Other points of clarification on the interpretation of the Oslo Convention concern interoperability (ability to conduct joint military operations with States not parties likely to use cluster bombs) and intermediation.
Von: More information on www.amnesty.fr and www.handicap-international.fr The minutes of the plenary session of the National Assembly on www.assemblee-nationale.fr