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5 years after the deployment of cluster munition in Lebanon – field work
On the occasion of the second Meeting of the State Parties (2MSP) of the Convention on Cluster Munitions inBeirut(12.-16. September 2011), the organization FACING FINANCE travels toLebanonaccompanied by a camera crew of the German public channel ZDF. Its objective is to record the humanitarian deployment of cluster munitions inLebanonand call for a prohibition of investments in producers and production of such weapons at the intergovernmental meeting. Part of the agenda is to visit a victim relief project of the Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) and its group of female mine cleansers inSouthern Lebanon. The journey is supported by the EED (Evangelischer Entwicklungsdienst; “Church Development Service”).
Unexploded cluster munition
Background information on cluster munitions and its deployment in Lebanon:The deployment of cluster munitions has claimed approximately 100,000 victims worldwide. Only in 2006, several million submunitions were deployed byIsraelinSouthern Lebanon. The Convention on Cluster Munitions which entered into force on August 1, 2010, prohibits the deployment, production, storage and trade of cluster munitions. It is thus the most significant treaty on disarmament since the entry into force of the Mine Ban Treaty (Ottawa-Convention) on 1997. More than 100 countries includingGermanyhave already signed the Convention.
In Lebanon cluster munitions were mainly deployed by Israeli military forces in the conflicts in August 2006.Israelapproximately deployed four million cluster munitions of which several hundred thousands have not exploded. These duds pose a lethal threat to the civilian population. Until 2010, 366 accidents with cluster munition duds have been registered. The total number of registered accidents between 1975 and June 2011 amount to 3,846 (900 casualties and 2,946 injured).
We met Adham Najdi. He is 24 years old and lives in Srifa.
Meeting with Adham Naji (24) – victim of a cluster munition in Southern Lebanon (15,000 inhabitants) close to the border to Israel. On 15.09.2006, Adham became victim of cluster munitions when he helped clearing his grandfather‘s house which had been hit by bombs during the recently finished Lebanon War. Since that day he is paraplegic. He is one of 400 victims cluster munitions have claimed during this war.
Adham says, he had to learn to rebuild his life and that he has entered into a new phase in his life. He cannot control his body the way he used to before the accident and depends on constant support from his family and relief organizations. However, Adham has found his way back to everyday life. He is proud to present a small social project to us which he has set up for the local youth. The worldwide action of NGOs is very important to him and he wants to participate in the Meeting of the State Parties which will begin tomorrow inBeirut. He wishes that the conference will result in more than just words and empty promises and that more countries will adhere to a ban on cluster munitions.
Being asked about his opinion on banks which finance cluster munition, Adham replies that financing the production of a weapon which predominantly causes harm among the civilian population cannot be morally tolerated.
We have been accompanied by the ZDF camera crew and Khaled Yamout from the Norwegian relief organization NPA. Tomorrow we will visit a mine clearing team in which only women work.
Clearance of cluster munitions at Tyre, Lebanon
Travel Diary, Day 2, 12. September 2011
We drive to the NPA Headquarters inTyre. After a brief introduction on the present situation of cluster munitions inSouthern Lebanon, the journey continues to Nabatijeh. The city is located in the South of Lebanon, around 30km away from the Israeli border. Proud, though a bit disorganized, the Lebanese army and civil organizations presented their clearing and relief projects to the more than 200 participants of the 2. Meeting of the Parties. They even detonated some cluster munitions in order to demonstrate what is at stake at the conference. Far more impressive than the official agenda, however, was our visit of a group of female mine cleansers deep in the inland organized by the relief organization Norwegian People’s Aid. Currently, eight women are occupied in clearing cluster munitions close to thevillageofAyta Al Jabal. Lamis Zein (33) is the head of the team. For 4 years she has this occupation. She is proud to say that she is the first woman inLebanonwhich has the official permission to detonate duds. Mother to two girls she has voluntarily quit her job as a teacher in order to directly contribute to securing her home.
With Lamis Zein, Head oft he female cleansing team in Ayta Al Jabal, Lebanon
After the visit of the project she invites us together with the ZDF camera team to her house. Her entire family welcomes us warmly – and the parents show their pride for her daughter. Anxiety is nowhere to be found here – in a country in which everyday life is characterized by a high level of military presence, the people have apparently adapted to the circumstances.Tomorrow is the beginning of the Second Meeting of the State Parties to the Convention.
Meeting with Branislav Kapetanovic at the 2. Meeting of the State Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions in Beirut, Lebanon
Travel Diary, Day 3, 13. September 2011
Entering a complete different world: far away from the dust, heat and contaminated fields of the South, the Second Meeting of the State Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions opens in a noble 5 star hotel in the Lebanese capitalBeirut. One after the other government delegates and representatives of nongovernmental organizations arrive at the venue. We run into several friends and co-campaigners such as Branislav Kapetanovic. The Serbian victim of cluster munitions is a designated activist for a universal ban of these insidious weapons. In May 2011, he has visited us inGermany. It was his moving speech at the annual stockholders meeting of the Deutsche Bank which made its CEO Ackermann underline that “we (could) be confident that the Deutsche Bank will give up investments in cluster munition”. Curiously, he asks us about the development since. Unfortunately, we have to disappoint him: Recent investigations have shown that the Deutsche Bank Group continues massive investments in cluster munitions. Branislav is interviewed by the ZDF team.
Branislav Kapetanovic at the 2. Meeting of the State Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions in Beirut, Lebanon
Branislav is one of the first speakers at the opening of the conference. Representatives of civil society refer to him as the “Father of the Treaty”, because he participated in the negotiations right from the start. Of course, he underlines in his speech that any way of investing in cluster munitions is prohibited according to the Convention. The other participants applaud. In the course of the conference different State Parties to the Convention report on their national progress. With regards to a ban on investments,Germanyhas not made any progress – as opposed to numerous other countries.
Tomorrow, we will head once again to 2MSP before returning toGermanyin the evening.
Travel Diary, Day 4, 14. September 2011
On the second day of the conferenceSwitzerlandannounces to ratify the Oslo-Convention. It foresees a ban on direct and indirect financing of condemned war material. According to the Federal Council of Switzerland, direct financing includes credits, loans and grants while indirect financing rather refers to holding shares of corporations which develop, produce or purchase condemned weapons.
Handicap International Switzerland criticized that the concept of banning direct and indirect investments which are incorporated in the new provisions is subject to several limitations. Given the general prohibition of direct financing, indirect financing is only restricted “if it serves to circumvent direct financing” (Art. 8(b2)) which is almost impossible to prove.
Article 35 (b2) stipulates that in case of indirect financing the issuer is not liable, if “he accommodates with the possibility of an infringement of the prohibition to finance”. In order to limit such possibilities and give effect to a prohibition, Handicap International urgesSwitzerlandto support the adoption of an international list of corporations which produce cluster munitions.
The German delegation did not comment on the issue of financing cluster munitions and refused to give interviews to the ZDF camera team.