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HOME  > Past issues  > 2007 November 14 - 20  > Set to work without delay on anti-cluster bomb treaty
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2007 November 14 - 20 [WORLD]

Set to work without delay on anti-cluster bomb treaty

November 19, 2007
Akahata editorial (excerpts)

Member nations of the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) agreed to start talks on cluster bombs and cluster munitions on November 13 at their meeting in Geneva.

Since the Oslo Conference on Cluster Munitions that was held in February 2007 by the states of the willing, these governments together with NGOs have set in motion the “Oslo Process” aimed at concluding an international convention banning cluster bombs by the end of 2008.

It is important to use progress in the “Oslo Process” to encourage the CCW member states to conclude an international treaty. We should remember that the so-called “Ottawa Process” that grew outside of the CCW framework became a decisive factor contributing to the conclusion of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Antipersonnel Mines and on Their Destruction, even though many initially believed that conclusion of such a treaty would be difficult due to opposition by the United States and some other countries. This indicates that developing the “Oslo Process” is essential for achieving an international convention banning cluster bombs.

The cluster bomb is a weapon that can quickly destroy armored vehicles or troops. Cluster bombs and munitions release hundreds of smaller bomblets in the air. It has a high dud rate, and kills or injures many noncombatants, including children, who pick up unexploded bomblets. The international community is now overwhelmingly calling for a total ban on cluster bombs and munitions instead of trying to lower the dud rate as called for by the United States.

Emphasizing that cluster bombs and munitions “pose significant challenges for international humanitarian law,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his message delivered to the 2007 Meeting of the High Contracting Parties to the CCW officially demanded that a legally binding instrument of international humanitarian law “prohibit the use, development, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster munitions” and that domestic measures be taken “to immediately freeze the use and transfer of all cluster munitions” until such a legal instrument is adopted.

However, the CCW member states’ conference does not set the prohibition of cluster bombs as the goal of the negotiation. The United States is defending its policy of developing and deploying new types of cluster bombs that will have lower dud rates. Many CCW member sates are calling for a ban on cluster bombs, but countries that have such munitions, including Japan, are resisting the call. In addition, the CCW member states’ conference makes it a rule that its decisions must be unanimous. Therefore, if we leave the matter to CWW member states, we cannot pave the way for an international treaty totally banning cluster bombs and munitions.

The Japanese government bluntly rejects the realization of such a treaty on the grounds that a total ban on cluster bombs is not the answer.

Japan, which is constitutionally prohibited from going to war, should take the initiative in achieving a treaty banning cluster bombs. Japan should prohibit the Self-Defense Forces from using cluster bombs and make an effort to achieve an international anti-cluster bomb treaty. - Akahata, November 19, 2007
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