Press Release – Human Rights Ban on Cluster Munitions Celebrates 3 Year Anniversary

(Berlin, 01.08.13) Three years ago, on 1 August 2010, a groundbreaking reform, the “Convention on Cluster Munitions” entered into force. The convention prohibits the use, production, and transfer of cluster munitions and requires the disposal of stockpiles, the clearance of affected areas, and assistance to victims.

To date, 112 states including Germany, France, Belgium, Laos, and Iraq, have signed the convention. However, the largest users and producers of cluster munitions – USA, China, and Russia – have yet to sign the convention.

Germany became one of the first countries to sign the ban on cluster munitions in 2008. They went on to amend the War Weapons Control Act later in June of 2009 to provide for the conditions of the convention. Germany has since destroyed 80% of their existing stockpiles of cluster munitions as required by article three of the convention and plans to destroy 100% of its stockpiles by 2015. Despite destroying the majority of its stockpiles, Germany still has around 18 million cluster munitions in its possession.

Germany is committed to the destruction of cluster munitions outside its borders as well, e.g. by providing financial support to countries like Macedonia and Georgia in an effort to outlaw the use of cluster munitions in the Syrian conflict.

Although the production of cluster munitions in Germany was officially halted in 2005, cooperation over the last few years has persisted. For example, in the arms industry has recently seen increased cooperation between companies from signatory countries, e.g. South Africa or Saudi Arabia that have yet to ratify the treaty. Research conducted by Facing Finance reveals that the South African Rheinmetall Denel Munitions (RDM) and the Saudi Arabian MIC, offer the so called, “Assegai” artillery family which, according to military experts, includes cluster munitions.

Profits are not only made through the production of cluster munitions, but also through the financing of their manufacturers. “It’s not enough to just ban the production or use of cluster munitions without also forbidding the financing of their manufacturers,” criticized Thomas Küchenmeister, coordinator at Facing Finance, a German member organization of the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC).

Facing Finance and other NGOs like urgewald support the amendment of the War Weapons Control Act to include an explicit ban on investment in cluster munitions. Last year alone, Deutsche Bank, Commerzbank, and DekaBank invested approximately €620 million in cluster munition producers, which included names like Lockheed Martin and Textron from the United States, and Hanwha from South Korea.

Another key component of the campaign is not to neglect the clearing of unexploded munitions in former areas of conflict like Laos, Iraq, Lebanon or Afghanistan. Millions of unexploded munitions still threaten to create more victims and survivors must have access to assistance.

Contact:

Thomas Küchenmeister

Coordinator Facing Finance

Schönhauser Allee 141 Haus 3

10437 Berlin 

TEL:           +49 (0)30 326616-81

MOBILE:    +49 (0)175-496408

E-MAIL: kuechenmeister@facing-finance.org

WEBSITE: facing-finance.org