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Treaty Signing at United Nations, March 18, 2009, Cluster Munitions and Landmines


February 28, 2009
Subject: International Cluster Munitions Ban and Landmine Treaty Comes to New York on March 18, 2009 for Signings and Ratification

We now have the opportunity to participate in an historic occasion in the United Nations, on March 18, when people from all over the world will lend their hearts, minds and spirits to the cause of disarmament and global cooperation in fostering agreements and treaties opposing Landmines and Cluster Munitions.

We need to convince and challenge the U.S. Administration and Congress to join forces with other peoples and nations of courage and foresight; recognizing that disarmament and diplomacy are the keys to peaceful co-existance.

On Dec.3, 2008 In Oslo, Norway a Convention on Cluster Munitions was held and 95 countries have now signed onto the treaty which prohibits the use, production, trade, transfer and stockpiling of cluster munitions that cause great harm to civilians, including many children during the attacks and in the days, weeks, months and years afterwards; loss of limbs and senses are the usual horrible consequences of handling these small. exploding bombs - some made up to look like children's toys.

This International effort has been spearheaded by the Government of Norway since February 2007. The United Nation has supported this so-called "Oslo Process" as well as the efforts of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons which has addressed the impact of cluster munitions. The United Nations Development Programme and UNICEF, the International Committee of the Red Cross, Human Rights Watch, Friends Center for National Legislation, Amnesty International, Handicap International, Arms Control Association, the U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines, the Mennonite Central Committee - around 50 International organizations - as well as groups and agencies from many Nations have contributed to the humanitarian effort in recent years.

Human rights groups are putting pressure on the United States and other nations to join the ban. Former President George W. Bush opposed signing the treaty although he did sign into law at the end of 2007 a prohibition on the sale and transfer of these cluster munitions. That law was generated by bills in the Senate and House, sponsored by Senators Dianne Feinstein and Patrick Leahy and Rep. Jim McGovern.

This law has been carried foward FY2009 (Sept.30) with another bill S.416 now under consideration in the Senate. However our current law falls far short of the International provisions such as; Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, South Africa, and the UK already destroying their stockpiles of cluster weapons. Spain said it would destroy its stockpile by July 2009. By contrast the United States maintains an arsenal of an estimated 5,500,000 cluster bombs containing 728,500,000 submunitions and hasn't indicated any interest in eliminating any of them.

Too, although the new law in the U.S. may include denying any funding for the Military to order more cluster munitions, there is no provision to curtail the use of the 5.5 million cluster bombs - from our stockpiles. Also, we could trade from the stockpiles to other countries since there is no provision against trading them. Too another country can say they will not harm any civilians in combat and thus be entitled to obtain our cluster munitions. However, in actual combat, like Israel attacking the Palestinians in Gaza, there is no oversight or control on the combatants during actual fighting and many civilians were injured and killed in the slaughter.

It has been documented that Israel's use of the GBU-39 small diameter bomb was purchased from Boeing in the U.S., a sale of 1000 with other military hardware at a cost of $77 million. This sale had an oversight provision for Congress but the sale was not stopped. Over 1300 people, including many children, were maimed or killed by these heavy bombs made in the USA. If the GBU was designated as a cluster bomb then the sale would have been illegal.
In fact, any sale by a U.S. corporation to another country since January 2008 is illegal, under the law signed by President Bush.

In fact, despite the law, the Pentagon announced on Monday, July 7, 2008, that it would continue to use and export cluster bombs for the next decade. Robert Gates said in July 2008 that the U.S. will also seek to ship cluster bombs to other countries, despite U.S. law prohibiting transfers. Under some pressure for the U.S. to build safer cluster bombs Secretary of Defense Gates signed a memo requiring the the U.S. build so-called safer bombs but the order won't go into effect until 2018 - 9 years from now!

Various groups have taken action trying to influence other nations and the U.S. to join the International humanitarian effort to save limbs and lives. Peace Action Maine says they hope the treaty will shame the U.S., Russia, China and other non-signers into abandoning weapons armed for maiming and killing civilians. September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows highlights the civilian casualties in Afghanistan caused by U.S. and NATO forces - including those harmed by cluster munitions. In February 2009, 67 diverse U.S. groups appealed to President Obama to reconsider U.S. noncompliance with international treaties banning the use of landmines and cluster bombs.

Since his election, many activists and stakeholders are questioning whether President Obama will reverse his predecessor's policy. Obama has voted in favor of limiting the use of cluster munitions.

In December, while nearly 100 nations were gathered in Oslo, Norway a spokesman for the Obama Transition team said that the new administration would "carefully review the new treaty and work closely with our friends and allies to ensure that the U.S. is doing everything feasible to promote protection of civilians."

We have 19 days to lobby the President, members in the Senate and House, the United Nations and convince constituents to communicate with their representatives to act on efforts for the United States to join with world disarmament at the United Nations on March 18, 2009.

The website, www.stopclustermunitions.org contains much background material and a 4 part action plan that is worth studying and passing on to others in the progressive movement. Groups can, of course, develop their own action plans, petitions, telephone calls, articles for the media, etc. and some are already doing so. I've included some important contacts below as well as material from stopclustermunitions.org.

This is our chance to stand up for disarmament and divesting of some of the military might that keeps us away from developing more cooperation and peace in the world.
arn specter, phila.
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Contacts:
U.S. SIGN LANDMINE AND CLUSTER BOMB TREATIES NOW

President Barack Obama, whitehouse.gov (e-mail)
Sen. Patrick Leahy, (202) 224-4242, senator_leahy@leahy.senate.gov
Sen. Dianna Feinstein, (202) 224-3841, Feinstein.Senate.Gov (e-mail)
Rep. Jim McGovern, (202) 225-6101, McGovern.house.gov (e-mail local)
Rep. Barney Frank, (202) 225-5931, house.gov/Frank (e-mail local)
Susan Rice, Ambassador to United Nations, (212) 415-4050, usunnewyork.usmission.gov (website)

From: Cluster Munitions Coalition, Feb.23,2009
http://stopclustermunitions.org/
26 Ratifications needed!

We need 30 ratifications for the treaty to enter into force and become international law.

SO FAR 4 COUNTRIES HAVE RATIFIED THE CONVENTION ON CLUSTER MUNITIONS:

The Holy See, Ireland, Norway, Sierra Leone.

Ratification and entry into force 30 ratifications are needed for the Convention to enter into force and become binding international law. Only when the Convention enters into force will states be bound by all of the Convention’s terms and will the deadlines start counting down for clearance of contaminated land and destruction of remaining stockpiles. The CMC is challenging all states to ratify the Convention on Cluster Munitions without delay and to strive to be among the first 30 states responsible for triggering entry into force.

Signature of the Convention
The Convention on Cluster Munitions was signed in Oslo, Norway in December 2008 and has since been opened for signature and ratification at the United Nations headquarters in New York. By signing the Convention, a state proclaims its consent to be bound by its provisions once it ratifies the treaty. In addition, the state is obligated to not act against the “object and purpose” of the treaty until the treaty becomes law for that state. Every country that has signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions must still ratify it in order to become a State Party bound by the Convention’s provisions.

95 COUNTRIES HAVE SIGNED THE CONVENTION ON CLUSTER MUNITIONS:

Afghanistan, Albania, Angola, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Comoros, Republic of Congo, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Côte D`Ivoire, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, El Salvador, Fiji, France, Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, The Holy See, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Lao PDR, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar , Malawi, Mali, Malta, Mexico, Republic of Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Norway, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Rwanda, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tomé and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Slovenia, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Zambia.

95 Signatories to the Convention on Cluster Munitions

Filed Under: Countries On Board

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Take Action: Bring the Convention into Force

2009-02-23

Today, 23 February, marks 2 years to the day since the Oslo Process began with the adoption by 46 states of the historic Oslo Declaration that mapped out the road to a ban on cluster bombs. The process has come a long way during this time: that group of 46 countries that set out in Oslo has grown and we’ve seen around 150 countries take at least some part in treaty discussions. This has included almost all of the affected countries. Most importantly we have secured a strong and comprehensive treaty which just 2 years after the launch of the process has been drafted, negotiated, adopted and signed by 95 countries and ratified by 4 countries. We must keep up the momentum throughout 2009 to bring the treaty into force and to make sure that more countries sign it. The main priority for the CMC is that we secure 30 ratifications as quickly as possible to make sure that the Convention enters into force swiftly. That is 26 more ratifications needed for entry into force: www.stopclustermunitions.org/treatystatus/

TAKE ACTION

This week, 23 February - 1 March, is also a week-long Action Alert for our sister campaign, the ICBL, celebrating 10 years since the Mine Ban Treaty entered into force. Many campaigners will be using this opportunity to promote the Convention on Cluster Munitions and the need to bring it into force, in addition to highlighting what still needs to be done on the Mine Ban Treaty.

Some suggested actions and news on an event in New York.

1) 18 March 2009: Opportunity for states to sign and ratify in New York

There will be an event at the UN headquarters in New York on Wednesday 18 March, facilitated by UN agencies including the UN Treaty Section. All countries will be invited to participate through their missions in New York and for those countries that have not signed or ratified the Convention, they will have an opportunity to do so at this event as a group and in the spotlight of other states, civil society and media.

If your government hasn’t yet signed the Convention - particularly those states who did not get adequate ‘full powers’ to sign in Oslo, and states that adopted the Convention in Dublin but failed to sign in Oslo - please encourage them to sign at this event in a few weeks’ time, if not before.

If your government can complete ratification procedures within the next few weeks, please encourage them to deposit their ratification instrument at this event, if not before.
Even if your country has signed, encourage your country’s mission to the UN in New York to attend the event.

2) Adapt and send a letter to your Minister of Foreign Affairs calling on your government to sign or ratify the treaty as soon as possible (if they haven’t done so already)

You can find tempalte letters here: www.stopclustermunitions.org/take-action/government/
We recommended that you adapt the letter so that it is appropriate to your national context. Here are some suggestions:

Welcome any announcements that the government has made saying it will sign the Convention soon if it hasn’t yet signed, or that it will ratify the Convention quickly if it has already signed, as well as any steps already taken towards signature or ratification. If you are writing to your country about ratification, you may also want to make clear what next steps are needed to complete this procedure;

Highlight why it is important that this country signs/ratifies the Convention, for example if it is an affected country then it will be able to request and receive assistance to clear contaminated land and if it stockpiles then it will obligate the country to start destruction.

Copy the letter to all relevant people in government, parliament and civil society that can help to follow up on ensuring that the signature / ratification procedure is carried out quickly and efficiently.

Attach to the letters the CMC Briefing Paper on the Convention and the ‘How to’ guides on signing and ratifying the Convention.

3) Contact members of parliament and engage them in your campaign

Check out the excellent new Parliamentary Action Kit online which has information on the Parliamentary Friends of the CMC network, parliamentary forums on cluster munitions, and other useful resources. Thanks so much to Portia Stratton and Landmine Action for putting this together.

Send letters to parliamentarians asking that they encourage your government to sign and ratify the Convention (if they haven’t done so already). You can find template letters here: www.stopclustermunitions.org/take-action/mp/

4) Arrange a briefing for key government officials and parliamentarians

There is a range of materials to support briefings including the lobbying guides and practical information on how to sign and ratify the Convention, ratification and signature, briefing papers explaining what the treaty means, PowerPoint presentations and photo slide shows: www.stopclustermunitions.org/campaign-resources/

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That's my final answer.

No More Two Party dictatorship.
expect more of the same

March 2, 2009
1) US Subverts the Cluster Bomb Ban, by Jody Williams, May 24, 2008, Boston Globe

2) A letter to President Barack Obama, USA

The following two pieces may be worth studying in order to see the absolute need we have here in the United States to press upon the minds of the President and members of
Congress the abysmal position of this country's foreign affairs policies in the eys of other nations; the opportunity to right the wrongs committed by the Bush administration in refusing to sign on the Cluster Ban and Landmine Treaties and coercing other nations to withhold their signatures as well; that the eyes of the world will, once again, be focused on the United States on March 18, a Wednesday, at the United Nations, that building in New York city housing men and women from all over the world gathered together working to foster progress and peaceful co-existance in the world by many forms and attempts at DISARMAMENT and DIPLOMACY over the years only to run into, time and time again, opposition by the weak and self-interested policies by a nation now so strongly corrupted by war making, the military industrial complex, that
it is even still a question whether to sign the agreements or not!

Act, if you will, and help to save the world - men, women and children - from further harm and destruction; like Afghanian Soraj Ghulam Habib, a 17 year old from the city of Herat who lost both legs when he accidently stepped on an explosive cluster remnant seven years ago. His life and that of his family was changed that day and won't ever return to when he was able to walk down the street or play with his friends or hold a regular job and do the usual things a youngster does preparing for manhood and creating a responsible place for himself in the culture.

Now let us take some time and let others who are still able to walk, play and be responsible to assume the mantle of leadership and stand with others representing the United States at that most important and impressive meeting on March 18 and say to the world, 'we're with you now, we want to stop the cluster bomb making, selling, stockpiling, trading, or any part of the dirty war business and help protect as many people as possible from harm

in the world by working harder with diplomacy, a more powerful and more successful way to foster peaceful co-existance in the world today and in the future, and we're ready to sign those agreements.'

arn specter, phila.pa.usa

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US Subverts the Cluster Bomb Ban
By Jody Williams
May 24, 2008 , Boston Globe Newspaper
DUBLIN THE DIPLOMATIC conference to ban cluster munitions - bomb canisters that open and spew hundreds or thousands of bomblets that harm both civilians and soldiers

- is being held in Dublin. The United States is not participating in the deliberations but it is making its presence painfully known.
In the 1997 treaty that banned land mines, the United States was no friend either. The difference is that the United States was openly and actively involved before, until it walked out on the last day, after being unable to force acceptance of ts "negotiating package," which would have gutted that treaty.

For too many years, multilateral negotiations - unless related to free trade - have seemed to be anathema to the United States. This time, rather than risk open opposition as it had with the land mine treaty, the United States opted for strong and unrelenting pressure behind the scenes of the cluster treaty negotiations.

The United States is making no secret of its pressure on allies to weaken the treaty to serve its own interests. One official recently bragged that the United States had "spoken with" more than 110 countries about this treaty. It has told allies that it will not alter its military doctrine, structure, or deployments. It has also threatened that it will not remove its cluster munitions stockpiled in countries that do join the treaty - even though it did remove land mines stockpiled in countries that are part of the Mine Ban Treaty.

Much of the US pressure has been to get allies to either remove or seriously weaken a key provision in the draft treaty that prohibits governments from "assisting, inducing, or encouraging" states that do not join the treaty with any act that is prohibited by the treaty. As Tim Shipman wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald, "An official from the US State Department warned that under the treaty, British frontline troops who call in artillery support or air strikes [in Afghanistan or Iraq] from an American war plane, all of which carry cluster munitions, could be hauled into court."

In military jargon, such exaggeration could be called "firing for effect." The US official's warning is not accurate. Mere participation in operations where a US plane might carry cluster munitions is not prohibited, it is only deliberately calling in air strikes to use those cluster munitions that would be.

Many weapons treaties prohibit such assistance, including the Mine Ban Treaty and the Chemical Weapons Convention. Additionally, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Biological Weapons Convention, and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty include similar provisions. The United States is party to most of those treaties. Its efforts in Dublin are really about undermining the treaty itself.

US allegations that the cluster ban treaty would undermine NATO are another obfuscation. The ban on land mines has not affected NATO. Belgium, which unilaterally banned cluster munitions in 2006, said its ban has in no way affected participation in NATO operations. In fact, a government official in Dublin told me a recently completed internal NATO study found that joint operations would not be affected by NATO members signing a cluster munitions treaty with the prohibition on assistance intact.

If the United States wants to try to weaken the future cluster munitions ban treaty it should do its own dirty work and not hide behind its allies.

One commander in the invasion of Baghdad in 2003 refused to order his men to use clusters. He recognized not only that it was unlawful to fire indiscriminate weapons into densely populated civilian areas, but also that he would put his own troops at risk as they later had to move through those clusters. In fact, the United States has not used cluster munitions in Iraq since the 2003 invasion, nor in Afghanistan since the invasion in 2002.

Banning cluster munitions is not antimilitary, it is pro-humanity. Banning cluster munitions protects civilians and US soldiers.

The United States should stop bullying its allies and join in the work to ban cluster munitions now.

Jody Williams was the founding coordinator of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines for which she and the ICBL received the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize. She is also the founding chair of the Nobel Women's Initiative.

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www.Whitehouse.gov(send e-mail from website)
February 28, 2009
President Barack Obama and Staff,

Greetings. I wish to call to your attention the upcoming international meeting in New York at the United Nations of the signing and ratification of the International Landmine and Cluster Munitions Treaties, which many
people in the U.S. want the country to join, along with at least 95 other nations...
The meeting will be held on MARCH 18,2009.

Some of us have already lobbied you and Congress to
1) make a more comprehensive law prohibiting landmines and cluster munitions in their various aspects and
2) joining other nations cooperating strongly for disarmament by eliminating these lethal weapons, both stopping production and destroying stockpiles, banning sales , trade and use as well. The recent carnage in Israel/Gaza showed us, once again, the horrible affects of dropping or firing these munitions as over 1300 men, women and children were killed and many injured, some for life.

Since your election many activists have questioned whether you will reverse your predecessor's policy of avoiding joining the international community and signing
the trreaties. Mr. President, you voted in favor of limiting the use of cluster
munitions, and for this we applaud you.

In December of 2008 the United States was absent while nearly 100 nations were gathered in Oslo, Norway for the signing of the Cluster Bomb Ban Agreement.
A spokesman for your transition team said, "the new administration would carefully review the new treaty and work closely with our friends and allies to ensure that the U.S. is doing everything feasible to promote protection of civilians."

We now have 18 days before the next signing opportunity for all those nations who now understand that the road to peace in the world is through the paths of disarmament and diplomacy. The U.S. now is burdoned with a troubled legacy and tarnished reputation in the world. We now have a chance to shine up that tarnished image.

I urge you to consider seriously taking a bold step foward, over-riding concerns
of the military industrial complex and some members in Congress and special interests, and fulfill your intent to join in and cooperate with other nations in
protecting civilians; men, women and children worldwide and SIGN ONTO THE BAN AGAINST LANDMINES AND CLUSTER MUNITIONS IN NEW YORK, UNITED NATIONS ON MARCH 18, 2009.

I thank you for your consideration in this most pressing and important matter, for the sake of a reduced military presence and violence in the world, of our future.

arn specter, phila.

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