Friday, June 1, 2007

A Ban on Cluster Bombs

In Lima, Peru a conference was held campaigning for a total ban on cluster bombs by next year. Will it fair better than Princess Diana’s campaign for a global ban on land mines?

By: Vanessa Uy

In the week ending May 26, 2007 – the conference for the comprehensive global ban on the use and production of cluster bombs / sub munitions took place in Lima, Peru. 46 countries have already sign up earlier this year in Norway in support for the campaign, while 20 more countries have sign up during the conference in Lima, Peru as a show of solidarity in banning the use and production of cluster bombs and/or sub munitions. Not surprisingly, the biggest users and producers of cluster bombs and/or sub munitions namely: the US, Russia, China, and of course Israel are absent.

As anti-personnel weapon systems go, cluster bombs don’t work very well militarily. This is due to the inherent manufacturing faults where sometimes 50% of the sub munitions won’t explode immediately upon deployment. These UXO (unexploded ordnance) has a nasty habit of maiming and killing non-combatants/civilians long after the military conflict is over. The UN has even declared that UXO - like land mines are considered as a pollutant because of their ability to render croplands useless. Since the 1980’s, there has already been a global campaign to ban these weapons. In the Vietnam War movie “Bat 21”, the indiscriminate nature of cluster bombs were portrayed on celluloid. Also unexploded ordnance has a nasty habit of being turned into IED (improvised explosive devices) by resourceful “freedom fighters.” It was also known that as late as the mid 1990’s, nomads of the Sub-Saharan region have the misfortune of finding out that anti-personnel mines laid by German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel’s “Afrika Korps” still work.

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