Proscription of cluster munition in danger

Nongovernmental organisations warn of renunciation of humanitarian arms control

(Berlin 8.11.11) Representatives of 13 nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) have urged the German governmental coalition consisting of Christian Democracts (CDU/CSU) and Liberals (FDP) to do everything in their power to prevent the renunciation of the proscription of cluster munition. In two open letters (only available in German) the NGOs called for more governmental support of the ban which has entered into force only one year ago. Arms control is a highly controversial issue which will be renegotiated at the 4. high level conference on the UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons in Geneva (14.-25.11.). In the forefront of the conference, NGOs seek to prevent any weakening of the recently adopted prohibitive measures.

„The German government has to counter any attempt aiming at legalising the usage of cluster munition“, claims Thomas Küchenmeister, coordinator of FACING FINANCE, a member organisation of the International Cluster Munition Campaign. Küchenmeister refers to Articles 1(c) and 21 of the Oslo-Convention which has been ratified by Germany. They oblige contracting states to refrain from supporting or encourage any other state to infringe the provisions of the Convention (for more information, please consult Thomas Küchenmeister in the Frankfurter Rundschau, an article in the taz by Andreas Zumach and an interview by – only available in German).

Countries which have ratified the Oslo-Convention remain bound to the provisions enshrined therein even in case they adhere to a second Treaty which is substantially weaker than the Convention. However, by permitting other countries (such as the US, Russia, China, Israel, India etc.) to produce cluster munition as envisaged by a draft proposal, Germany would contribute to an abatement of international humanitarian standards. According to NGOs this step threatens to undo all the positive and progressive stigmatising effects established so far.

In April 2009, all fractions of the German Bundestag supported the Convention and thus a general prohibition of cluster munition. This is why the opposition parties of Social Democracts (SPD) and Greens (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen) have urged the government in a joint motion to prevent any proscription of the ban on cluster munition and to continue its support for the Oslo-Convention as the overarching standard in international law in this field.

„Persistent dissemination of cluster munition hampers any peaceful reconstruction in conflict areas. These devastating weapons threaten the life of the civilian population even years after the conflicts have ended“, underlines Klaus Seitz, Director of the politics and campaigning department of ‘Brot für die Welt’ (Bread for the World).

„Thanks to our experience as an international relief organisation being active in different areas of conflict we know: Cluster munition kills! We therefore condemn any attempts to abate or circumvent the general ban on cluster munition. Most of the time children become innocent victims of these insidious weapons“, says Danuta Sacher, manager of terre des hommes.

Among the supporters of the open letter are „Brot für die Welt“, Caritas international, the Evangelische Entwicklungsdienst (EED), the Dachverband der Kritischen Aktionärinnen und Aktionäre, FACING FINANCE (Cluster Munition Coalition Germany), Handicap International Deutschland e.V., Human Rights Watch Deutschland e.V., Oxfam Deutschland e.V. , pax christi – Secretariat of the German section, solidaritätsdienst international e.V., terre des hommes Deutschland e.V., UNICEF Deutschland and urgewald e.V.


Thomas Küchenmeister, coordinator FACING FINANCE
(Cluster Munition Coalition Germany), 0175-4964082
Rainer Lang, Bread for the World: 0174-3135651.
Press contact, terre des hommes, 0541-7101-126.

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