31 December 2008

CMC Newsletter November - December 2008

1. INTERNATIONAL NEWSConvention on Cluster Munitions Signing Conference, 2-4 December 2008The CCM Signing Conference was one of the most important international events of 2008, an historic moment to remember forever. 94 countries signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions at the Signing Conference in Oslo. Signatories of the treaty include dozens of users, producers and stockpilers and affected states including Afghanistan (in a surprising last-minute decision by President Karzai), Lao PDR, and Lebanon. With 18 of the 26 NATO countries signing the treaty, future use by the US will be severely hampered. Other countries not signing in Oslo also felt the effect of the two day conference with Brazil's Foreign Minister telling a congressional hearing that the government is now "re-examining its position" which could result in it signing in the near future."This is an historic moment, the world has come together and today we have banned cluster bombs forever" said Thomas Nash, coordinator of the Cluster Munition Coalition. "We expect everyone in this movement to keep the focus and momentum going. The sooner thirty governments ratify the treaty, the sooner this remarkable achievement translates into action to save lives."While the general debate and signing of the Convention on Cluster Munitions took place inside Oslo's City Hall on 3 December, many CMC campaigners resisted snow and rain to promote the Convention to the public outside the City Hall. CMC campaigners from around the world as well as several Norwegian organisations set up stalls in a big NGO tent with information and campaign materials on cluster munitions. Visitors to this area were invited to engage in a variety of outdoor activities including a Handicap International activity where the general public could try out prostheses and wheelchairs. Norwegian People's Aid (NPA) ran mine clearance demonstrations throughout the day including demonstrations with mine clearance dogs. At the "Wish You Were Here" stand people signed "Wish You Were Here" postcards and post them to 5 countries not present in Oslo: Israel, USA, Russia, Finland and India to encourage these states to sign the Convention in the future.The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund hosted a reception on 4 December to mark the end of the Signing Conference. A programme of short speeches included Håkon Gulbrandsen, Norwegian Deputy Minister of International Development, Astrid Bonfield, Chief Executive of the Fund and Thomas Nash, CMC Coordinator. Song Kasal, a landmine survivor who spoke at the launch of the Oslo Process in February 2007, expressed heartfelt thanks to Steffan Kongstad and the Norwegian government for all it has done to ensure cluster munitions no longer continue to cause unacceptable harm to civilians all around the world. As the Fund is now spending out its remaining capital, the reception also marked its exit from active engagement in the treaty process.http://www.theworkcontinues.orgFor further information on the Oslo conference and the full list of signatories check out: http://www.stopclustermunitions.org/oslo2008/Beirut Regional Conference on the Convention on Cluster Munitions, 11-12 November 2008On 11 - 12 November the Lebanon Mine Action Centre (LMAC), under the auspices of the Ministry of Defence and with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Norwegian embassy to Lebanon, hosted a regional conference on cluster munitions and the Convention. The highlight of the conference was a strong statement of support from Lebanon's Foreign Minister Fawzi Salloukh for signing the Convention in Oslo, he added "...no one should have to experience the pain we have experienced through cluster bombs to be able to comprehend it". Just over 2 weeks later Salloukh personally signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions in Oslo on 3 December. Technical experts from the region participated in the conference from Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, sharing experiences and lessons learned on cluster munition and mine clearance and victim assistance. Donor and core group states also took part. A large part of the discussions at the conference concerned the diminishing pool of funds available to complete the clearance work. The CMC participated in the conference with campaigners from across the region as well as international representatives. The Lebanese campaign worked closely with LMAC to prepare for the conference, took part in the conference and hosted the CMC representatives who came from outside Lebanon.Quito Regional Conference on the Convention on Cluster Munitions, 6-7 November 200820 States from Latin America and the Caribbean as well as representatives of UNDP, ICRC and 16 representatives of the CMC attended the Quito Regional Conference on the Convention on Cluster Munitions from 6-7 November 2008. Bolivia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama and Paraguay announced they would sign the treaty in Oslo on 3 December, joining Chile, Mexico and Uruguay. Jamaica, Dominican Republic and Peru indicated they are working on the internal process for signature in Oslo. Highlights from the conference proceedings included a strong presentation on victim assistance from Guatemala, an excellent interpretative statement by Ecuador making strong arguments on the need to be vigilant on Article 21 and to ensure through common understandings and implementation that the Article can never be used to justify derogation from the core prohibitions in Article 1. In addition Chile made a very detailed presentation on national steps, including stockpile destruction and announcing its intention to host a follow up regional meeting to push ratification and universalisation.For further information and a full conference report check out: http://www.stopclustermunitions.org/calendar/?id=807CCW Group of Governmental Experts, 3-7 November 2008After eight weeks of negotiations of the Group of Governmental Experts on Cluster Munitions in the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW), the Convention on Cluster Munitions was confirmed as the only multilateral option to address humanitarian concerns. The US, South Korea, Israel and others failed to push through agreement on an alternative accord in to allow continued use. Those countries that were seeking an alternative agreement in the CCW to provide legitimacy for their future use, production and transfer of cluster bombs are the same countries that have rejected the Oslo Process. It is a limited group including the US, China, Russia, India, Pakistan, Israel, Finland and the Republic of Korea. During the Geneva talks the CMC has welcomed the strong support demonstrated by the majority of states for the standards set by the Convention on Cluster Munitions. It is expected that the continued stigmatisation of this weapon around the world will accelerate with the widespread signature of the treaty in Oslo and that this will eventually lead to a vast reduction in its use, production and transfer, even by the limited group of states remaining outside its legal norms.***2. MEDIA HIGHLIGHTS OF THE MONTH"92 Nations Sign Cluster-Bomb Ban; US, Russia don't" by Doug Mellgren, AP (piece was picked up by the International Herald Tribune)http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/12/04/europe/EU-Norway-Cluster-Bombs.php"Afghanistan Signs Cluster Bomb Treaty" by Walter Gibbs and Kirk Semple, New York Timeshttp://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/04/world/04cluster.html?partner=rss&emc=rss"Venezuela aún no firma una tratado internacional para no adquirir bombas en racimo", El Universalhttp://internacional.eluniversal.com/2008/11/21/pol_ava_venezuela-aun-no-fir_21A2139809.shtmlThe following two AFP and RFI pieces are two of many articles/ broadcasts generated by the Lao PDR press trip:"Breadwinners Blighted by Legacy of Decades-old War in Laos" by Claire Truscott, AFPhttp://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5h39QNhZ97TLv8Kwb96s9FGI2XS_g"Les bombes à sous-munitions mises hors la loi à Oslo", RFI (Radio France Internationale)http://www.rfi.fr/actufr/articles/108/article_75557.asp***3. CAMPAIGN AND COUNTRY UPDATESBelgium. To mark the signing of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, Handicap International organised an open-air photo exhibition with the title "Fatal Footprint" in the heart of Brussels city centre from 28 November to 30 December. Three famous Belgian photographers, Tim Dirven (Panos), Gael Turine (Vu') and John Vinck (Magnum), traveled to Cambodia, Colombia, Ethiopia and Laos to meet mine, cluster munition and other unexploded ordnance survivors. "Fatal Footprint" is the result of their many striking encounters. On large 2.5-metre high canvas sheets, the photos are visible, day and night.http://www.fatalfootprint.be/fr/?page_id=778Patrizia Pompili, Handicap International Belgium, Patrizia.Pompili@Handicap.be Canada. Canadian students at high schools and universities from Victoria to Kingston organized creative events and activities in November in support of a ban on cluster bombs and the People's Treaty. Students at St. Michaels University School organized a demonstration and collected signatures for the People's Treaty. They also gave a presentation and held a moment of silence for the victims of cluster munitions and landmines on November 20. Minds Against Mines, a new student organization at Queen's University, encouraged their peers to reflect, placing factual displays about the risks cluster bombs and landmines pose to civilians in 15 high-traffic areas around campus from November 17-21. Facts about landmines and cluster bombs also greeted students at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, British Columbia.Liz Whitehurst, Mines Action Canada, pt@minesactioncanada.org Estonia. From 24-25 November the Ban Bus stopped in Tallinn, Estonia and on arrival a snowstorm took the team by surprise. Nobody turned up for the press conference at the Irish embassy as most media were busy covering the storm. The team parked the Ban Bus in a public park and distributed leaflets and talked to the public, including a youth group that offered to distribute leaflets and other campaign materials through their networks. In the evening the Irish Ambassador hosted a reception, which was attended by parliamentarians and the Estonian Red Cross.Mette Eliseussen, The Ban Bus, mettesofie@gmail.com EU. On 20 November the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the Convention on Cluster Munitions and urged member states to sign and ratify the CCM as soon as possible and to take steps toward implementation even before it is signed and ratified. Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Latvia, Poland, Slovakia and Romania are the only EU member states that have not yet signed the Convention.http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2008-11/21/content_10389468.htmFinland. The Ban Bus visited rainy Helsinki from 26-27 November. To the disappointment of campaigners, Finland had announced a few weeks earlier that they would not sign the Convention in Oslo but has left the door open to reviewing its decision to sign next year. The Peace Union of Finland organised a press conference on arrival of the Ban Bus and in the afternoon, a lie down action took place in the heart of Helsinki which got very good media coverage criticising Finland's decision not to sign the Convention. On 27 November the Ban Bus crew gave a presentation on cluster munitions and the Oslo Process in the Finnish parliament for parliamentarians and ambassadors from a variety of countries.Laura Lodenius, Peace Union Finland, laura.lodenius@rauhanliitto.fi Gambia. Campaigners in Gambia held a workshop on 10 and 11 November for civil society and government officials to raise awareness of cluster munitions and the Oslo Process. During the workshop a road map was drawn up by the government for signing and ratifying the treaty.Pamela Cole, WANEP, kehindecole@yahoo.com Germany. Action Group Landmine.de has launched a new bi-lingual website on ethical investment. The website contains a database that identifies about 260 armaments manufacturers, which offer, produce or develop landmines or cluster munitions or their components (e.g. dispensers). Check it out at http://www.ethisches-investment.info/Thomas Küchenmeister, Action Group Landmine.de, thomas.kuechenmeister@googlemail.com Ghana. Campaigners in Ghana launched the People's Treaty in Accra on Saturday 15 November. Mr. Jones Aplerh from the Ministry of Interior participated in the event and presented a paper on the theme "The Road to the CCM: The Role of Africa and What Africa Stands to Gain." He publicly emphasized Ghana's full commitment to the process and the country's intention to sign the convention in Oslo and ratify soon after. After the formal launch ceremony campaigners went into the city centre to collect signatures and explain the CCM to the public.Theodora Williams, Foundation for Security and Development, theodora@fosda.net Jordan. Handicap International (HI), Norwegian People's Aid (NPA) and IKV Pax Christi organized a photo exhibition on cluster munitions in Jordan on 19 November.Kosovo. On 17 November 2008 , CMC member organisation The Focus organised a meeting on cluster munitions in Kosovo in cooperation with other partner organisations. The meeting was attended by civil society representatives, media, the Red Cross in Kosovo, UNDP and the Coordination Centre of Kosovo Protection Corps. During the meeting UNDP offered to support The Focus in lobbying the government to support the Convention on Cluster Munitions.Burim Haxholli, Focus, burim.haxholli@gmail.com Latvia. On 20 November the Ban Bus arrived in Riga. The team gave a presentation at the Law School of the University of Riga and met representatives from the local NGO platform LAPAS who were very interested in the Ban Bus project and the issue of cluster munitions and considered the CCM a great opportunity for Latvia to play a positive role in the world.Mette Eliseussen, The Ban Bus, mettesofie@gmail.com Lithuania. The Ban Bus stopped in Vilnius, Lithuania from 17-18 November and the Irish embassy organized a press conference on arrival of the bus. The Ban Bus was set up in a public square where Mette handed out information materials to the public while fighting freezing temperatures, and the ice forming under the magnetic signs causing them to fall off. Visitors stopped constantly, asking questions and commenting on the photo exhibition. In the afternoon the Norwegian ambassador hosted a meeting that was attended by representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a representative from the Seimas, the Lithuanian parliament, representatives from various other embassies and Lina Laurinaviciute from the Red Cross.Mette Eliseussen, The Ban Bus, mettesofie@gmail.com Luxembourg. Handicap International Luxembourg organised a meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs where he announced that Luxembourg will be in Oslo to sign the Convention. He also said his Ministry was already working on steps to ratify the treaty and on national legislation (which will include prohibition on investments) to ensure that Luxembourg is one of the first 30 ratifications. He also stated he will promote the CCM with non-signatories States, in particular through his contacts with the future new US government. http://www.gouvernement.lu/salle_presse/actualite/2008/11-novembre/13-asselborn/index.htmlMarion Libertucci, Handicap International, mlibertucci@handicap-international.org New Zealand. The Guardians of New Zealand Superannuation announced on 12 December that they were excluding from the New Zealand Superannuation Fund companies associated with the manufacture of cluster munitions and the manufacture or testing of nuclear explosive devices. The Fund will divest from stocks in six companies involved in the manufacture of cluster munitions, one of which is also involved in the simulated testing of nuclear explosive devices. The total value of the Fund's shares in these companies is approximately $37 million, or 0.3 percent of the Fund's portfolio.Edwina Hughes, Peace Movement Aotearoa, pma@xtra.co.nz Philippines. The Philippine Campaign against Cluster Munitions (PCCM) organized a rally in front of DFA thanking the agency for its support for the CCM. Campaigners held "Thank You for Signing" placards. The Philippines is not affected by cluster bombs so the group highlighted the contamination in countries where there are overseas Filipino workers such as Lebanon, Israel and Laos, the "most cluster-bombed" country. However, the Philippines had staging points for the cluster bomb attacks in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam during the time of US bases in the country.Jaymelyn Nikkie T. Uy, Philippine Campaign Against Cluster Munitions, jayme.uy@gmail.com Poland. Campaigners in Poland organised an action on 3 December, the day when the Oslo signing conference was opened, and delivered Christmas tree decorations that looked like a BLU-63 to the President, Prime Minister, all members of Parliament, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Defense and other key decision makers relevant to the issue of cluster munitions. The message on the round leaflet highlighted that half of the countries in the world are in Oslo to sign the Convention on Cluster Munitions and raised the question why Poland was not present in Oslo. The action was covered by the main daily news on Polish TV as well as by a variety of newspapers and radio stations.From 12-15 November 2008 the Ban Bus visited Poland and was hosted by the Polish Red Cross (PCK), Amnesty International (AI), the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights (HF) and the Polish Forum for Persons with Disabilities (PFON). The team was accompanied by powerful advocates: Branislav Kapetanovic from the CMC and Firoz Ali Alizada from the ICBL. A large press conference was held on 13 November in Warsaw with great, moving speeches by John Rodsted, Branislav, and Firoz. The Irish Embassy in Poland hosted an evening welcome reception for the Ban Bus crew and special guests. Rodsted once again mesmerized the audience with a brilliant presentation and photo slideshow. The crowd of diplomats, representatives of the ministries, MPs, NGOs and journalists stood amazed and terrified at the same time, listening to him speak about the impact of landmines and cluster munitions. The next day the Ban Bus, CMC and ICBL team met with Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Mr. Przemyslaw Grudzinski. They reiterated their call on Poland to sign the CCM in Oslo and to ratify the Mine Ban Convention without further delay. The officials stated that Poland needs to keep landmines and cluster munitions for self-defense, on its own territory. Which was commented on by Branislav as "pure madness" As if they did not learn the lesson from Georgia ... The advocates also met with the Secretary General of the Conference of Bishops and asked for support for our cause. A few days later the Conference of Bishops officially called on the Polish government to ratify the Mine Ban Treaty and sign the Convention on Cluster Munitions in Oslo.Lidia Szafaryn, Polish Red Cross, lidia.szafaryn@pck.org.pl Sweden. The last Ban Bus stop before Oslo was Stockholm. Local campaigners organised a public action where they blocked a central street with red and white ribbons and threw cluster duds on the ground to attract the attention of the public to the problems caused by cluster munitions. The photo exhibition of the Ban Bus attracted many visitors, who stopped to talk to campaigners and sign the People's Treaty. In the evening campaigners and the Ban Bus team gathered at the "Ban Bar" to celebrate the hard work of the Ban Bus team and Sweden's decision to sign the treaty.Anna Ek, Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society, anna.ek@svenskafreds.se USA. Members of Survivor Corps and the USCBL who were not able to attend the Convention on Cluster Munitions Signing Conference in Oslo sponsored an evening celebration in Washington, DC. A bar donated the space and four musicians donated their time for the event. About 60 people participated in the celebration, and were educated on cluster munitions and the treaty. Participants were also asked to send postcards to the Obama transition team and to sign a petition to the Secretary of Defense.Tracey Begley, Survivor Corps, tbegley@survivorcorps.org Venezuela. Campaigners in Venezuela organised an action to collect signatures for the People's Treaty and collected over 1000 signatures.María de Lourdes León Russo (Maya), maya@aiven.org Vietnam. On 21 November the Landmine Working Group of VUFO-NGO Resource Center Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City Department of External Relations, and Landmine Survivors Network (LSN) Vietnam co-hosted a second workshop on the Convention on Cluster Munitions in Ho Chi Minh City. The workshop was attended by members of the government, diplomats, and representatives from about 20 international non-governmental organizations and the press. According to Ms. Magrit Schlosser, the INGOs coordinator in Ho Chi Minh City, this was the first workshop of its kind held in the city, and was a good opportunity for the different stakeholders, particularly the government and civil society, to discuss an international convention as well as future opportunities for international co-operation and victim assistance. Although the Vietnamese government did not sign the CCM in Oslo the two national workshops have been very successful in placing the issue on the government's agenda and in urging Vietnam to sign the convention as soon as possible.Kim Hoa Nguyen , LSN Vietnam, ngkimhoa@gmail.com ***4. TAKE ACTIONThe priority of the CMC in 2009 is to run an effective ratification campaign that will ensure that 30 countries ratify the Convention quickly to bring the Convention into force. The CMC will also continue to campaign in countries that have not yet signed the Convention to encourage them to do this as soon as possible at the UN in New York.1) If your government signed the Convention in Oslo, encourage it to ratify the Convention quickly. Please send all and any news on this to Laura (laura@stopclustermunitions.org).2) If your government has not yet signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions, encourage it to sign the Convention at the United Nations in New York. Particularly if it adopted the Convention in Dublin or did not manage to get its full powers documents in order in time to sign in Oslo. See the paper on ‘How to Sign the CCM'.Check out the document entitled ‘Next Steps' at www.stopclustermunitions.org/takeaction for more information. Campaigning resources are currently being developed for the ratification campaign.