28 May 2008

Cluster Ban News - 28 May 2008

Cluster Ban Newsletter 28 May 2008 (PDF)INSIDE THIS ISSUEThe End Game Is At HandCluster Munition Use In The New MillenniumDivestment Measures Add UpSurvivors Expect A Strong TreatyU.S. Leadership And Set-BacksIraqi Support For The BanEDITORIAL: THE END GAME IS AT HANDWith the need to finalize the convention today, Wednesday, in order to allow time for consulta- tions with capitals and for translation into French and Spanish, this may be the most important day of the Oslo Process. States must stay true to the humanitarian objectives that have driven the process and not fall prey to last-minute deal-making that will weaken the treaty. "Consensus" in the Oslo Process should not mean stooping to the lowest common denominator, or accommodating any individual nation’s demands even if they run counter to the dominant view of other negotiating states, but rather agreement that the treaty must have the strongest possible humanitarian impact.It is most essential that the definition not be weakened in any way, and the version forwarded by the Friend of the Chair can be further strengthened in Article 2(c) with additional criteria and with improved language on the negative effects that must be avoided.There should not be any transition period, of any length, for any prohibited cluster munition.The new "interoperability" article should be clear that any deliberate assistance with a prohibited act is not permitted. The article should not be used as a backdoor means of allowing foreign stockpiling on the national territory of a State Party in perpetuity— as is the case with the version forwarded by the Friend of the President.Facing the international stigmatization of a weapon that is being banned by virtually all of its allies, the U.S. is fighting behind the scenes for interoperability language to make it easier for it to continue using cluster munitions. States here in Dublin that are serious about humanitarian protection should take the longer view and recognise that in only a few years the use of cluster munitions will cease to be a realistic option for any country.There are other provisions that are important to pre- serve, such as "user responsibility" in Article 4. There are some good proposals floating around that, if accepted, would improve the treaty, such as a reporting requirement regarding Article 2 (c). And there are some matters of interpretation that states need to deal with, if not through treaty text at this point, then through common understandings for the diplomatic record, including an affirmation that transit of cluster munitions is prohibited, and that investment in cluster munition production is prohibited, and a clarification of what the "minimum number absolutely necessary" means for submunitions retained for training.But the strength and integrity of the treaty will largely depend on states doing the right thing on the definition, transition period, and interoperability.Delegates here at Croke Park have an historic opportunity to set a new international standard for the protection of civilians from the effects of armed conflict. They should seize the opportunity, and set the standard high.SURVIVORS EXPECT A STRONG TREATY On Monday, 26 May a unique side event took place at Croke Park. While the NGO’s Ash Suite venue may be located as far away from the formal meeting rooms as possible, the participants and their views on the treaty are central to the success of the treaty that will result from the Dublin negotiations.Thirteen cluster munition survivors held a press conference to provide their views on the mid-point achievements of the treaty talks. Half-way through they were joined by one of the most powerful politicians in the United States, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt), and a British parliamentarian, Lord Alfred Dubs.The cluster munition survivors and their entourage of assistants and translators are participating in the Dublin Conference through the "Ban Advocates" programme by Handicap International in Brussels. Launched at the Belgrade Conference on States Affected by Cluster Munitions, the Ban Advo- cates have participated in subsequent Oslo Process meetings where they have lobbied hard for strong victim assistance provisions in the treaty, as well as no compromise on other areas of concern.At Monday’s press briefing, the Ban Advocates applauded the strong language on victim assistance in the proposed treaty and urged states to resist pressure to weaken the treaty. In the side event that followed on U.S. cluster munition policy, Ken Rutherford of Survivor Corps (formerly Landmine Survivors Network) described how he was injured by an anti-vehicle mine in Somalia on 16 December 1993, while working for the International Rescue Committee. Senator Leahy described how Rutherford’s presentation before the Sen- ate was the most powerful testimony he has heard in his 34 years in the U.S. Senate.After the briefing, Rutherford chatted with Ethiopian Ban Advocate, Berihu Mesele, who lost both his legs to a cluster submunition in June 1998, when he was trying to help school children injured and killed by a cluster munition strike. Mesele told Ken, "I am fighting so other people, especially children, will not to be like me. This is my aim. This is why I came to Dublin."Ban Advocate Ahmed Yassin Najem, added, "If I can protect one person suffering like me that is a good result."Najem was injured in 1991 near Basra, Iraq when he picked up an object that he thought looked like a can. It turned out to be a cluster submunition that exploded in his hand. Ahmed’s relatives brought him to the hospital, where doctors amputated his right arm from above the elbow.As Ken remarked at the conclusion of Monday’s lunch- time briefings, "When Berihu, Ahmed, and I head home at the end of this week, we only have to answer to our children and ourselves about what was accomplished in Dublin. We are hopeful for a strong treaty and are confi- dent that we’ve done every- thing in our power to stop the loss of civilian lives and limbs. We pose this question to government delegates: How will you answer when your people ask, ‘What did you achieve in Dublin?’" —Sarah Njeri, Staff Writer and Ken Rutherford, Survivor CorpsQUESTIONCLÉ / PREGUNTAS CLAVES: QUELLE EST LA QUESTION LA PLUS CRUCIALE DE LA CONFÉRENCE?¿CUÁL ES LA CUESTIÓN MÁS CRUCIAL DE LA CONFERENCIA?Notre objectif en venant ici est l’adoption d’un traité d’interdiction: son application doit être immédiate. Certains pays developpés négocient pour obtenir une période de transition et tentent d’influencer les pays africains pour qu’ils soutiennent cette transition. Or, si nous sommes d’accord pour interdire ces armes parce qu’elles causent des souffrances inacceptables aux civils, nous sommes d’accord pour le faire immédiatement. Tout délai diminuerait gravement la portée du texte. —Boubine Touré, Cluster Munition Coalition (Sénégal)En esta última fase, los estados latinoamericanos tendrían que mantenerse firmes en su oposición categórica a que se incluya en el texto del tratado cualquier disposición que permita a los estados partes utilizar, durante operaciones militares conjuntas, estas armas devastadoras que causan daños terribles a la población civil. De otra manera, se reconocería un carácter esencialmente militar a la convención, dejando fuera los principios humanitarios que caracterizan las políticas exteriores de todos los países de nuestra región. —Yassir Chavarría Guttiérez, El Instituto de Estudios Estratégicos y Políticas Públicas (Nicaragua)La definicio? es un asunto crucial porque la decisión de esta conferencia podría significar la vida o la muerte da una persona. Cerrar el paso al uso de bombas de racimo que causan daños indiscriminados y afectan a la población civil, está hoy en nuestras manos. —Camilo Serna Villegas, Campaña Colombiana Contra Minas (Colombia)Chaque question discutée ici est cruciale car les dispositions du traité sont interdépendantes. A l’heure actuelle, régler la question des définitions est primordial. Toutes les armes à sous-munitions qui causent des souffrances inacceptables aux civils doivent être interdites en raison de leurs effets. Si les Etats souhaitent se prévaloir d’exclusions, je les défie de prouver que les armes qu’ils comptent employer ne causeront pas de souffrances inacceptables et n’auront pas un effet indiscriminé. —Rachid Dahmani, Handicap International (Algérie)Para mí, la asistencia a víctimas es uno de los temas más importantes del futuro tratado. Los países que han trabajado en la actual propuesta de lenguaje pueden estar orgullosos ya que éste realmente refleja lo que hemos aprendido en la implementación del Tratado de Ottawa. De encontrarse en el futuro tratado, este texto representará un paso histórico para que las víctimas de estas armas inaceptables realmente vean un cambio en sus vidas. —Wanda Muñoz, Handicap International (France)La position commune dégagée à Livingstone par 38 pays africains refuse toute concession sur l’interopérabilité. Je suis fier de cette position et je souhaite qu’elle influence positivement les discussions sur cette question cruciale. L’objectif premier de ces négociations doit demeurer celui de prévenir les souffrances civiles évitables. Il y a urgence d’agir. —Amadou Moussa Maiga, Réseau des journalistes pour la sécurité et le développement en Afrique de l’Ouest (Mali) CLUSTER MUNITION USE IN THE NEW MILLENNIUMOnly eight years into the new millennium, armed forces have used cluster munitions in at least four countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel, and Lebanon. While these conflicts differ to some extent, they show that wherever cluster munitions are deployed, these weapons cause unac- ceptable humanitarian harm, which can only be eliminated by a convention banning them.In the 2001-2002 war in Afghanistan, the U.S. Air Force dropped 1,228 cluster bombs containing more than 248,000 bomblets. Attacks in the somewhat sparsely populated country illustrated that even strikes on or near small villages endanger civilians. Afghans, particularly children, farmers, and shepherds, also suffered from the after-effects of submunition duds, which caused at least 120 deaths and injuries in the year after the conflict.In Iraq in 2003, U.S. and UK forces used 13,000 cluster munitions containing 2 million submunitions. In this war, ground-launched cluster munition models dominated. Cluster munitions, which were used widely in popuated areas, killed or injured hundreds of civilians during the conflict and after. Upset by how duds endangered both civilians and soldiers, even military personnel criticized their use.While small in number, Hezbollah’s 118 attacks on Israel in 2006 represented the first use of the Chinese MZD-2 submunition in conflict and illustrated the ominous proliferation of cluster munitions to non-state armed groups.In the same war, Israel launched an estimated 4 million submunitions, which blanketed south Lebanon with about 500,000 duds, according to the most recent estimates, including a large number in populated areas. Although few casualties during strikes have been documented, duds have caused about 200 deaths and injuries, especially among children and farmers, and had a serious impact on south Lebanon’s agricultural economy. In addition to using vast quantities of outdated, unreliable submunitions, averaging a 25 percent dud rate, Israel employed the M85 sub-munition with a self-destruct device. Although touted as the solution to the dud problem, it has documented failure rates of about 10 percent.General themes emerge from these conflicts: armed forces frequently deploy cluster munitions in or near populated areas and often use outdated models; such use causes large numbers of civilian casualties both at the time of attack and after; children and farmers are particularly common victims; submunition duds threaten livelihoods as well as lives; duds interfere with military operations; and technology is not the solution. Regardless of their individual characteristics, together these cases studies show that only a legally binding, comprehensive ban that stigmatizes the weapon can bring an end to the scourge of submunitions. —Bonnie Docherty, Human Rights WatchDIVESTMENT MEASURES ADD UP"Investing in companies that produce cluster munitions is not a neutral activity," Christophe Scheire of Netwerk Vlaanderen (Belgium) stated during Tuesday’s lunchtime side event on actions taken to divest from companies that support the manufacturing of cluster munitions. "Banks, pension funds, and other financial institutions have responsibilities when it comes to their investment policies," he added.In February 2007, Netwerk Vlaanderen published "Explosive Investments - Financial Institutions and Cluster Munitions," a report detailing the significant financing of six cluster munitions producers by 68 financial institutions around the world. Between 2004 and 2007, these institutions secured credit for six cluster munition producers worth a total of US$12.6 billion (€10 billion). Shortly thereafter, on 28 February 2007, the Belgian parliament voted to pass national legislation prohibiting investment in cluster munitions, making it the first country in the world to take such a step.Yesterday’s briefing considered how draft Article 1(c) of the proposed treaty relates to financial institutions. The article states that "Each State Party undertakes never under any circumstances to assist, encourage or induce anyone to engage in any activity prohibited to a State Party under this Convention.""During the Dublin Confer- ence there has been a lot of discussion about interpretation of Article 1(c), but not much has been said on the implications for financial institutions," Miriam Struyk of IKV Pax Christi Netherlands explained at the briefing. "States signing up to the convention should realise that this means that investment in companies producing cluster munitions would no longer be allowed," she added.Reinhilde Weinacher, a consultant for Ethix SRI Advisors in Sweden, described a new trend in the financial world where "investors prefer more and more a norm based approach over a revenue based approach." According to Weinacher, there seems to be a shift from an exclusionary strategy to an engagement strategy. She describes the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment as one example of this.Two resolutions addressing cluster munitions have been adopted by the European Parliament recently. The 2007 resolution calls upon states to immediately implement a moratorium on cluster munitions and stop investment in cluster munitions until the proposed treaty has been finalized.Sister Barbara Raftery of Action From Ireland (AFRI) is carrying out a divestment campaign in Ireland using a "Dossier of Fame" to inform Irish public on the investments in cluster munitions. In March 2008, Ireland’s National Pensions Reserve Fund (NPRF) announced its intent to begin divesting €27 million in investments from six international companies involved in the production of cluster munitions."The Cluster Munitions Convention can provide an important impetus to companies wishing to engage in social responsible investment," Scheire concluded at Tuesday’s briefing. "It would be consistent: no use, no production, no trade, no stockpiling, and no investment." —Roos Boer, Staff WriterU.S. LEADERSHIP AND SET-BACKSThis week we were reminded how the United States, the "elephant not in the room" at these Dublin negotiations, was one of the first countries in the world to create a fund to assist civilian war victims. At Monday’s briefing on U.S. policy, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt) described how in 1989 he set up the War Victims Fund, which has distributed over $60 million to support civilians disabled as a result of conflict in 16 countries. In 1992, Leahy wrote the first law enacted by any government to prohibit the export of antipersonnel mines.Leahy was cautious in his comments of U.S. policy on cluster munitions at the briefing. He noted that the treaty’s negotiators are facing several contentious issues this week and advised them to "...be guided by the conviction that this is, above all, more than a military issue. It is a moral issue and weapons that are inherently indiscriminate, whether by design or by effect, should have no place in this world in the 21st century."A decade ago, the participation of the United States in the Ottawa Process and its presence at the formal negotiations in Oslo in September 1997 allowed it to speak for itself. According to Nobel Peace Laureate Jody Williams, the challenge in Dublin is that "the U.S. is not here to tackle the issues face-to-face." At Monday’s briefing, Williams said that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is telephoning states participating in the Dublin in an attempt to influence the negotiations. This type of unseen pressure is harder to tackle and nearly impossible to engage according to Williams. She commented that countries involved in the Oslo Process "should not be thinking of the [U.S. presidential] administration going out of office but of the one coming in."In the United States, many hope that a new presidency could result in a change, for the positive, of the U.S. position on cluster munitions. To see this change, the citizens of the U.S. need to follow strong role models such as Leahy and Williams and push their government to do the right thing. While the U.S. has pressured many countries taking a stand to ban these weapons to weaken their positions, the U.S. citizens can still use their voices to join the global call for a ban on cluster munitions. —Jamila Homayun, Guest WriterIRAQI SUPPORT FOR THE BANLast week, Dr. Haider Al-Abady of the Iraqi House of Representatives sent a letter of support to the Iraqi Health and Social Care Organisation (IHSCO), which is participating on the civil society delegation to the Dublin Conference. In his letter, Dr. Al-Abady states:"We, the members of the Iraqi parliament, totally sup- port the banning of cluster munitions that cause a big number of civilian disabled in all of Iraq. A large number of civilians in Iraq lose their legs because of explosions of cluster munitions from the war on Iraq."Dr. Al-Abady has also spoken to the Security Committee in the Iraqi Parliament on the issue of cluster munitions and the harm they cause to civilians.LETTER TO THE EDITOR: DON’T DISAPPOINT USI came all the way to this "fair city" from Kratie on the Mekong River in Cambodia. I came because a U.S. cluster bomb blew off my arms and destroyed my eyes. I came because I thought governments could produce a treaty that would never allow the United States to do this to anyone else ever again. Are you really going to assist them to destroy the eyes and limbs of my children’s generation? Please don’t disappoint us. If you cannot meet the goal of a strong treaty, shame on you! —Mr. Youern Sam EnANNOUNCEMENTSTodayPanel Debate: Connecting the Dots: Weapons and Human Rights, 1-2pm, Ash Suite, hosted by Survivor CorpsFilm and Panel Discussion: "Fields of Fire," "Deadly Playground," and "Postcard from Lebanon" film screenings and discussion on the impact of cluster munitions in Lebanon, 7:30-9:30pm, Filmbase, Temple BarTomorrowLunchtime Talk: Brian Rappert, "The Prohibition of Cluster Munitions and the Future of International Law," 1-2pm, Ash SuitePublic Talk: Denis Halliday and Sister Barbara Raferty, "Achieving a Cluster Munitions Ban: Blueprint for an Ethical Foreign Policy," 7:30-9pm, Thomas Davis Theatre, Trinity CollegeIraqi Support for the BanCluster Ban News is a product of the Cluster Munition Coalition. We welcome comments or feedback, including letters to the editor or commentaries, from all delegates to the Dublin Conference on Cluster Munitions. These can be provided to us at the Cusack Suite or by emailing clusterbannews@gmail.com.Ms. Mary Wareham – Editor In ChiefMs. Rachel Good – Managing EditorMs. Amélie Chayer – WriterMs. Roos Boer – WriterMs. Sarah Njeri – Coordinator