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.
U.S. SIGN LANDMINE AND CLUSTER BOMB TREATIES NOW
President Barack Obama, whitehouse.gov (e-mail)
Sen. Patrick Leahy, (202) 224-4242, firstname.lastname@example.org
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
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
Take Action: Bring the Convention into Force
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/
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/