Ban Cluster Bombs! Support Historic Treaty Victory

Please note: the following page reflects a past CoR Network campaign and may be out of date. To return to our archives, click here.



On Feb 16, 2010, the international campaign to ban cluster bombs achieved a historic victory. When Burkina Faso and Moldova ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions, the treaty reached the 30 ratifications necessary to enter into force. On August 1, 2010, the agreement to ban cluster munitions became binding international law. This milestone is a credit not only to the signatory governments that ratified the Convention, but especially to the civil society groups that have campaigned for decades to outlaw these indiscriminate and inhumane weapons.

The treaty victory is a powerful example of how sustained, impassioned campaigning can move governments to the side of international opinion. However, critical work remains to be done. In total, 104 countries have signed the treaty. Although 30 nations have now ratified it, there are still 74 signatories that have not ratified and need to be pressured by their citizens to do so. Just as importantly, some of the world's biggest users of cluster bombs haven't even signed on to the treaty, much less ratified it. It will take a concerted citizen's campaign to pressure the United States, Russia, China, and Israel, among other countries that have used cluster bombs recently, to sign and ratify the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

The Cultures of Resistance Network has chosen to bring attention to several groups that have long worked on the frontlines of this struggle: Human Rights Watch, the Arms and Security Initiative at the New America Foundation, and Mines Action Canada.

Cluster munitions have been in widespread use for about 40 years, and for much of that time advocacy groups and international institutions have spoken out loudly about their predictable but devastating dangers. According to Human Rights Watch, cluster bombs "are inaccurate and unreliable weapons that by their very nature pose unacceptable dangers to civilians." They disperse submunitions, known as "bomblets," over very large areas--just one cluster bomb attack can cover an entire square kilometer with a rain of lethal bomblets, potentially killing anyone within 50 meters. Beyond their initial impact, cluster bombs disperse "duds" that essentially become landmines and remain a threat even decades after a given conflict has ended; due to their small size and metallic sheen, children playing have tragically mistaken them for toys.

MAC-logo

The Arms and Security Initiative and Mines Action Canada recently intensified the public education work that clearly helped steer the Convention to its 30th ratification. The Arms and Security Initiative has been advocating for the Convention since its inception in 2007, and focuses in particular on raising awareness of the issue in the U.S., which has used cluster bombs in Iraq. The Initiative released an influential report, "U.S. Weapons at War: Promoting a Ban on Cluster Munitions," in 2008, and soon after the U.S. Department of Defense sent a representative to attend one of the group's related events. The group has since expanded its research, outreach, and publicity efforts, all of which contributed to an important domestic development: in 2009, President Obama moved to restrict U.S. exports of cluster bombs that scatter 1% or more of their bomblets as duds, a move that the Initiative says "effectively bans export of these weapons."

In its related work, Mines Action Canada developed an "Action Toolkit to Ban Cluster Bombs," a compilation of campaign materials that has aided activists in Canada and around the world, and along with Human Rights Watch was one of the founders of the Cluster Munition Coalition, a global network that has urged governments to ratify the Convention since the treaty process was launched. Without the work of these activists documenting the human cost of landmines as well as cluster bombs, the historic victory that has just been achieved may never have been possible.


The Next Step

The treaty victory is a powerful example of how sustained, impassioned campaigning can move governments to the side of international opinion. However, critical work remains to be done. In total, 104 countries have signed the treaty. Although 30 nations have now ratified it, there are still 74 signatories that have not ratified and need to be pressured by their citizens to do so. Just as importantly, some of the world's biggest users of cluster bombs haven't even signed on to the treaty, much less ratified it. It will take a concerted citizen's campaign to pressure the United States, Russia, China, and Israel, among other countries that have used cluster bombs recently, to sign and ratify the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

There are several important ways you can help ban cluster munitions everywhere. Mines Action Canada and the Cluster Munition Coalition encourage you to:

Find out what your country is doing to ban cluster bombs, whether it has signed on to the treaty, and what needs to be done in order for the treaty to be ratified.

Write to your government directly or contact your MP or Congress member and urge them to join the treaty.

Sign the People's Treaty for individuals and community leaders. This treaty has been and continues to be a key mechanism for putting pressure on governments to join the international ban.




Enlist

Sign up to receive news about events & activism in your area: