Progress in efforts to ban cluster bombs

Last week, the international convention to ban the use of cluster bombs and other munitions was ratified by two more countries, providing the 30 ratifications needed for it to become officially binding international law.  The Convention on Cluster Munitions will now come into force this year on 1 August, little more than two years after it was first adopted in Dublin in May 2008.

Since then, movement on this convention has occurred fairly rapidly, due to widespread pressure and concerns expressed around the globe that had built up in preceding years.   I did some work on this topic when I was in the Senate, co-sponsoring legislation, along with Bob Brown, Lyn Allisionand ALP Senator Mark Bishop, which sought to ban cluster munitions. The majority of the Senate Committee which inquired into that legislation in 2007 was not supportive of the legislation.

However, in August last year, the federal Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Treaties reported on their inquiry into the convention.  The Committee recommended that the convention be ratified, whilst also identifying some areas where domestic legislation to implement the requirements of the convention would need to be made clear enough to prevent any inadvertent loopholes or breaches.

According to Human Rights Watch, the convention

comprehensively prohibits the use, production, and transfer of cluster munitions, provides strict deadlines for clearing affected areas and destroying stockpiled cluster munitions, and requires assistance to victims of the weapons.

Noticeable about the list of nations who have ratified or signed the convention is how few there are from Asia.  Japan and Laos are the only two Asian nations to have ratified the convention to date, with Afghanistan, Indonesia and the Philippines the only others to have signed it.

The Australian government has yet to respond to the Treaties Committee report or to announce a decision to ratify, leaving us in a group 73 other countries that have signed but not yet ratified the convention.  Ratifying this important piece of international law will not only ensure Australian adherence to it; it will also assist efforts to encourage other nations in our region to do the same.

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5 Comments

  1. Came here to see how you were Andrew,and a tough subject.In a technical measurement sense,is their an outline of technical inputs that would stop these bombs showing up in another form by altering some of the outstanding characteristics of design ,performance impact and firing!?I mean to say,most designs are not necessarily unique expressions of a design principle,are they!? Please answer,if you know,or a possible intelligible website.Whenever.Thanks.

  2. I’m afraid when it comes to war, I have a very cynical attitude as to who will obey the rules of engagement, even if they have all ratified the agreement.

    There will always be a rat or 3 wanting to gain the upper hand by skulduggerous means.

  3. Andrew, good to see you on this one. I can’t think of any good reason why the Australian government can’t go ahead on the ratification, unless they are trying not to get too far out of line with the USA, which will not even sign and wants to keep using them.

    Just to reassure ‘Lorikeet’ that there really is no military advantage in using cluster bombs. There are serious disadvantages in not being able to send own ground forces into an area. All that cluster bombs can achieve is long-term ‘area denial’, or putting it another way, commit the war crime of inter-generational collective punishment. You mainly maim and kill civilians and children at that. So, there really is no tit-for-tat argument to be made.

    When Australia does ratify, and we need to keep the pressure on, it should also be illegal to invest in the manufacture of cluster bombs. I will welcome that. I wonder if well-intentioned Queensland public servants know that QSuper has some of their money in the Socially Responsible fund invested through AMP funds managers in Lockheed Martin, the biggest manufacturer of these egregious weapons. I removed my funds after some correspondence.

  4. Willy:

    Thanks for your comments. I have not trusted superannuation funds of any kind for approximately 15 years.

    I think it would have been better if Australian governments had charged a higher rate of taxation to save a collective nest egg to pay pensions, instead of people making superannuation contributions.

    That way our government could have overseen our funds without international banks doing as they please with the money, including stealing huge chunks and being given golden handshakes for doing it.

    According to a survey I received at the weekend, there is some possibility that the government is looking at setting up an Old Age Fund, possibly similar to Health Funds.

    By the time the government collects direct taxes, consumption taxes, and people pay into superannuation funds, health funds, and old age funds, I think they will be beginning to wonder where all of this money is going and whether or not they can still afford to look after themselves financially today, let alone tomorrow.

  5. WILLY BACH – Good for you! If I had money to invest, which I don’t, I’d investigate what avenues to invest with such high morals as the basic start. I’ve read that there’s a woman’s ‘group’ that do this very thing. They refuse to invest in any company that manufactures weapons, machinery, even clothes for military etc. I’d go further and include uranium mining, the whole nuclear industry in fact, and would rule out many companies – BHP billiton would top my anti list! Blue Scope Steel would be another!
    Any companies oppressing the people of Iraq etc! I’d rather just take credit union interest(after I checked who they invested with of course?) and not be greedy as to want the ‘big hit’?

    Every ‘man'(woman) has their price! That’d be mine!

    LORIKEET – And yet Australians aren’t taxed as high as some other countries. Holland for example has a great aged care program – all beds are water beds, and people are extremely well looked after – I don’t know what proportion of tax they pay. In Australia, we can’t even pay the wonderful aged care nurses the same as others – that’s our attitude to what these wonderful people deserve! Shameful!
    There’s a saying – ‘You can tell a lot about a country by the way it looks after its very old, very young, and the dead’? I think homeless people should come in front of the dead, and indigenous health/education/housing etc? But I support the concept in principle! Everything costs – if we want good care etc, then we should be OK with paying for it via taxes! Otherwise, we’re just speaking with forked tongues about caring for people – all people!

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