Press release ' Ban on Cluster Munitions under threat?
(Berlin, 18.02.2008) From Monday at least 100 states continue negotiations for a ban on cluster munitions at the "Wellington Conference on Cluster Munitions" (18-22.02) in the frame of the "Oslo process". At the end of the conference, each delegation is called upon to sign the "Declaration of the Wellington Conference on Cluster Munitions" to enable participation at the next crucial contract negotiation due to take place in Dublin in May.
The states intending to sign the Declaration of Wellington commit themselves to an agreement with the basic principal of the prohibition on the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm to civilians.
"The Wellington Conference provides one of the last opportunities for the German government to finally implement the promised will of disarmament related to cluster munitions", reminds Thomas Gebauer from Medico International. Foreign minister Frank Steinmeier adds that "both disarmament and armament control (...) are of the utmost importance in a new transatlantic Agenda", here again making explicit reference to cluster munitions.
"The German federal government would be well advised to give out at last a clear signal in the form of a moratorium to ban cluster munitions and so to relinquish its restraining role in the Oslo Process", Thomas Küchenmeister from Actiongroup Landmine.de claims. "This would send out an important signal and hopefully encourage those other NATO and EU-members who constitute the main producers and users of cluster munitions to take a similar stance" Mr. Küchenmeister says. Recently, the US-Department of Defence warned that a ban on cluster munitions would make NATO operations with the participation of the US impossible.
The organisations which are associated with Actiongroup fear that the German government's position on cluster munitions remains vastly unchanged.
This would mean that "nonhazardous" cluster munitions which are supposed to have a lower dud rate, as well as scatterable mines remain excluded from the ban and that Germany is still actively trying to soften the ban process.
"If two thirds of the world states, among them most of the European countries, manage in 2008 to act in favour of a quick ban on cluster munitions without exception, this could, in the long term, oblige other states like the US, Russia or China to act similarly or at least support a restriction of their use unilaterally", states François de Keersmaeker from Handicap International.
Germany is amongst those states which stockpile cluster munitions, currently holding over 25 million. In addition to the billions of Euros already spent, Germany will continue to contribute hundreds of millions to the procurement of alternative cluster munitions. The country remains a producer and exporter of these weapons.
Actiongroup Landmine.de is a member of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) and of the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC).
Please contact us should you require any further information:
Thomas Küchenmeister, director of Actiongroup Landmine.de / CMC- Germany + 49 (0)3032661681 or +49 (0)175-4964082
Thomas Gebauer, Executive Director of Medico International, 069-94438-30
François de Keermaeker, Executive Director of Handicap International Germany +49 (0)177- 5563555