Since March 2015, a Saudi Arabian led coalition has been fighting the Houthi rebels in Yemen, as part of an operation called “Operation Decisive Storm”.… Read More »Cluster Munitions Use: Civilian Casualties in Yemen
US fails to internationally legalise cluster munition
Following 14 days of intensive negotiations in Geneva, the US, India, China and other proponents of cluster munitions have not succeded in their attempt to legitimise their weapon arsenals. „The prevention of the legalisation of cluster munitions is a milestone in the development of international law which can partially be attributed to the achievements of civil society“, claims Thomas Küchenmeister from ‘FACING FINANCE’. He points out that this prevention has considerably strengthened the status of the Oslo-Convention and its absolute ban on cluster munitions as an internationally binding norm. Küchenmeister expects that it helps to pressure the proponents of cluster munitions to justify their arsenals and exert a stigmatising effect on them. Furthermore, it could foster national measures prohibiting investments and financing internationally condemned arms.
Together with the governments of Switzerland, Sweden, Italy and the Netherlands, the German government generally accepted the US draft proposal and thus a legalisation of cluster munitions, but also encouraged improvements. „Germany needs to refocus on humanitarian aid, the removal of duds and the implementation of an absolute ban on cluster munition as enshrined in the Oslo-Convention“, stated Klaus Seitz, Director of the politics and campaign department of ‘Brot für die Welt‘ (Bread for the World). According to Seitz, this also entails a complete prohibition of investments in the production of cluster munition.
A group of 50 countries including Norway, Austria, Switzerland and South Africa have rejected the proposed draft version with regards to a low humanitarian value-added and a potential legalisation of cluster munition. The group was supported by the ICRC and the Cluster Munition Coalition, among others.
In an open letter (only availabe in German) 13 NGOs have urged the German governmental coalition of Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) and Liberals (FDP) to do everything in their power to prevent the softening of the proscription of cluster munitions. The prohibition had just entered into force in Germany one year ago. On November 10, two requests for a ban on cluster munition by the opposition parties were rejected. In a joint motion (17/7637), the Social Democrats and the Greens had called for a veto of the German government against the draft proposal of the UN Convention on Cluster Munition.
Thomas Küchenmeister, Coordinator FACING FINANCE
(Cluster Munition Coalition in Germany), +49 (0)175-4964082
Rainer Lang, Bread for the World: +49 (0) 174-3135651.Read More »Comeback of cluster munition prevented
On November 17, the European Parliament has adopted a resolution which urges the EU Member States to refrain from the softening of the prohibition of… Read More »European Parliament against the softening of the ban on cluster munition
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… Read More »Proscription of cluster munition in danger
On the second day of the Meeting of States Parties, Switzerland declared to ratify the Oslo-Convention on cluster munitions. It includes a ban on direct… Read More »Switzerland prohibits financing cluster munition
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”).
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).
ZDF Infokanal, 22.09.2011, 18:02 Uhr; 23.09.2011, 08:45 Uhr; 25.09.2011, 23:30 Uhr .
ZDF Mona Lisa, 24.09.2011, 18:00 Uhr.
Voraussichtliche Ausstrahlungstermine der ZDF Beiträge:
ZDF Infokanal, 22.09.2011, 18:02; 23.09.2011, 08:45; 25.09.2011, 23:30.
ZDF Mona Lisa, 24.09.2011, 18:00.
Travel Diary, Day 1, 11. September 2011
We met Adham Najdi. He is 24 years old and lives in Srifa.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Barbara Happe & Thomas KüchenmeisterRead More »Lebanon Diary