UK Retains Use of Inhumane Weapons With Partial Ban
London, UK - 19 March 2007. The UK Government has announced that it will cease the use of "dumb" cluster munitions, effective immediately. The Government however has said that it will retain the option to use "smart" cluster bombs, such as M85 bombs, used in large numbers in Lebanon in 2006.
While Handicap International welcomes the move, it is hoped that this will be just the first step towards a more comprehensive ban on all types of cluster munitions. Handicap International's position has always been that all cluster munitions, regardless of the method of their use or the technology involved in their production, are unacceptable and inhumane. Technological changes to these weapons, such as self-destruct mechanisms and fuse improvements, fail to address the fundamental fact that cluster bombs indiscriminately harm and kill civilians.
"As the recent conflict in Lebanon has shown, these weapons, regardless of whether they are 'smart' or 'dumb', kill and maim huge numbers of civilians" Samantha Rennie, Director of Handicap International UK says. The Handicap International report Fatal Footprint, published in November 2006, revealed that civilians constitute 98 % of all recorded cluster submunitions casualties.
The announcement of a ban by Defence Secretary Des Browne, comes just a month after the UK joined 45 other countries in the first round of negotiations of the Oslo Conference on Cluster Munitions (OCCM), a process aimed at producing an international ban on cluster bombs. While the UK supports the OCCM, the ambiguity of its declaration raises questions as to how comprehensive a ban the UK will ultimately agree to.
Writing to Margaret Beckett, the Foreign Secretary, and Hilary Benn, the International Development secretary, Browne says the decision for a ban was made on humanitarian grounds. Handicap International calls on the UK Government and all other states to fulfil this commitment to humanitarian concerns and enact a comprehensive ban on all cluster munitions.
Notes for editors: Handicap International is an international charity working in 60 countries worldwide in the fields of rehabilitation, inclusion of disabled people and in disability prevention, including landmines and cluster munitions clearance. Handicap International is co-founder of the Cluster Munition Coalition and the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which was awarded the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize.
For more information, please contact Béatrice Cami at Handicap International UK Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel: 0870 774 3737, www.handicap-international.org.uk
[ Any views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not of Reuters. ]
Von: 22.03.2007 www.alertnet.org, Source: Handicap International (HI) - UK