Media Clips Cluster bombs

2013.04.02 Thoughtlines with Bob Carr: Cluster Munitions

posted 2 Apr 2013, 23:23 by Mette Sofie Eliseussen   [ updated 3 Apr 2013, 01:02 ]

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Here are some comments to Bob Carr's thoughts:

Mr Willy Bach

April 2, 2013 3:40 pm

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With due respect, I wish that what you have said here is as factually correct as you depict it. The Australian government did take submissions that were supposed to help shape this as an Australian law as the Criminal Code Amendment (Cluster Munitions Prohibition) Bill 2010. I was one of those who made a submission (No 2). However, as we fortuitously learned from Wikileaks, Washington intervened and found that most of the material in the submissions from Australian citizens and organisations were given little attention, deed there was little acknowledgement of the work of Canadian expert, Earl Turcotte, particularly in respect of Article 21.

I refer readers to this article in The Guardian, dated 1 December 2010, which showed the British government bowing to similar pressure from Washington:

‘WikiLeaks cables: Secret deal let Americans sidestep cluster bomb ban’ – “Officials
concealed from parliament how US is allowed to bring weapons on to British soil in defiance
of treaty”.

The Australian Ratification process was also being undermined, as Philip Dorling detailed in his article in the Fairfax press:

Labor foiled bomb treaty
May 2, 2011
We must do more to help rid the world of these foul weapons

Paul Barratt also wrote in The Age:

We must do more to help rid the world of these foul weapons
May 2, 2011

Please also read NAJ Taylor’s contribution in Crikey, in which he also points out that the Australian government also failed to end investment in cluster munitions (mentioned in several submissions including my own):

The loopholes in the Labor Party’s Cluster Munitions Bill
NOV 22, 2011 4:59PM

So, Bob, please make sure that you have the story right, because you will be getting questions in the lead-up to the 14 September elections.

Willy Bach

Mrs Lorel Thomas

Dear Senator,
Unfortunately there are significant and glaring errors in your statement.  Australia has not, in fact, "taken a leading role in the banning and clearance of land mines and other cluster munitions," Australia was so negative at the beginning of the process which ultimately led to the Convention on Cluster Munitions (the Oslo Process) that it was not even invited to the first meeting. Add to this the Australian government's support of the US initiated plan to sabotage the Convention by attempting to introduce a retrograde  article as part of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and we begin to see the flaws in your statement. The Australian legislation is also flawed allowing, as it does, ADF troops to actively and directly assist the US in using cluster bombs. True, Australian forces are not allowed to use cluster bombs but they are allowed to give significant assistance in their use, thus weakening our adherence to the treaty's obligation against assistance. So our new law does not actually prevent Australian "involvement"   Yes, the Convention allows for interoperablity but it is a pity that we could not have enacted legislation which allows for that but upholds the integrity of the Convention as NZ has done.
Finally I am very confused by your conflation of the terms landmines and cluster munitions. The new legislation deals with cluster munitions only. Australia has been a State Party of  the Mine Ban Treaty since 1999. We ratified on 14-Jan-99 and it came into force on 1-Jul-99. Your statement that the entry into force of the Cluster Munitions Convention will make it "an offence in Australia to develop, keep or transfer land mines or cluster munitions" again mixes landmines and cluster munitionsand seems enough to justify us in thinking that you do not know what you talking about.
I wonder if you can convince me otherwise
Also while it is true that we were one of the first to sign the Convention, that was simply fortuitous as the signing was done in Alphabetical order. We were one of 94 countries to do so when it opened for signature.

Mr Robert Rands:

Cluster munitions are obsolete, pushed off the world stage by international stigmatisation and the march of technologicl progress.

The last time they were used by our allies was December, 2009, in Yemen.

What are they good for now, besides propagandising against Mr al-Assad, and lining the pockets of arms manufacturers in countries like Russia, China and the USA?

The CCM is a robust treaty, and I do hope Australia can use its status as a State Party to actively advocate for a universal ban on these pernicious devices, as well as to advocate for disinvestment in overseas companies directly involved in their manufacture.  It's all very well cleaning up old battlegrounds and dumping zones, but it's even better to eliminate their use.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

See also

2013.04.02 SBS Podcasts: Australia joins Cluster Munitions Convention

posted 2 Apr 2013, 23:17 by Mette Sofie Eliseussen   [ updated 2 Apr 2013, 23:24 ]

By Zara Zaher

Australia has officially become a party to the international Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Legislation passed last year has just come into force, making it an offence in Australia to develop, keep or transfer land mines or cluster munitions.

The federal government says the Convention and the legislation will apply to Australian Defence Force personnel during military operations, including when serving with the defence forces of other countries.

Laurel Thomas, from the Australian Network to Ban Landmines and Cluster Munitions, says it's pleasing that Australia has joined the Convention.

But she told Zara Zaher her organisation isn't entirely happy.

See it here:

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2012.11.15 ABC Sunday Profile: John Rodsted

posted 19 Nov 2012, 19:41 by Mette Sofie Eliseussen   [ updated 19 Nov 2012, 21:18 ]

This is a good interview with John Rodsted.

John Rodsted travels the world to find and photograph images of cluster bombs. In Eastern Cambodia he doesn't have to travel far to find the dangerous legacy of unexploded bombs.

Over the past 20 years Cambodia and development agencies have worked to de-mine much of the country. However in the remote eastern Cambodia, it's small tennis ball-sized cluster bombs that remain a dangerous threat to villagers.

The bomblets remain buried and hidden in much of the country's heavily forested east. Every day these deadly legacies of war continue to be a terrible hazard.

John Rodsted recently travelled to eastern Cambodia to document the extent of the problem and assess what financial support is needed to increase the rate of clearance.

John Rodsted has spent 30 years documenting the legacy of landmines and cluster munitions and was part of a team that in 1997 won the Nobel Peace Prize. He talks to Richard Aedy about his work.

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2012.10.21 Eureka Street:Australia's cluster munitions shame

posted 22 Oct 2012, 00:51 by Mette Sofie Eliseussen

Good to see Eureka street publishing this concise and strongly worded condemnation of the Clusters legislation as being contrary to and actually negating what Bob Carr said about Australia being a good country and fine global citizen!

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2012.10.17 SBS: Doubts remain over anti-cluster bomb treaty

posted 17 Oct 2012, 21:56 by Mette Sofie Eliseussen

Campaigners have welcomed Australia's ratification of a new treaty banning cluster bombs, but they still have concerns.

Australia is joining 76 other nations in ratifying a treaty banning the use of cluster bombs.

But Australian anti-cluster bomb advocates still have concerns that Australia will support the use of cluster bombs during joint military operations with the United States, which refuses to sign the treaty.

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2012.08.21 Minister for Defence: Minister for Defence, Attorney-General and Minister for Foreign Affairs – Joint Media Release – Legislation to ban cluster munitions

posted 17 Oct 2012, 00:08 by Mette Sofie Eliseussen

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2012.10.17 bobcarrblog: Australia ratifies global treaty to ban cluster munitions

posted 17 Oct 2012, 00:02 by Mette Sofie Eliseussen   [ updated 17 Oct 2012, 00:05 ]

9 days after the Australian ratification comes the first "official" mention of it by Bob Carr. 

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2012.10.10 United Nations Treaty Collection:

posted 12 Oct 2012, 23:12 by Mette Sofie Eliseussen   [ updated 12 Oct 2012, 23:13 ]

This United Nations Treaty Collection shows that there has been no policy statement on behalf of Australia as promised by  Minister for Defence Stephen Smith 23 November 2011: "The commitment not to authorise stockpiling by foreign governments will be confirmed in a public statement at the time of Australia’s ratification of the Convention on Cluster Munitions and in Australia’s Annual Transparency Report under the Convention." (

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posted 12 Oct 2012, 02:53 by Mette Sofie Eliseussen

(London 10 October 2012): Australia has become State Party 77 to the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM), having deposited its instrument of ratification on 8 October. Australia will formally become a State Party on 1 April 2013, after the waiting period mandated by the Convention.

While the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) welcomes Australia as the newest State Party to the Convention, the network regrets that the Australian government recently passed seriously flawed legislation to enforce the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Amy Little, Campaign Manager for the CMC said: “We hope and expect that Australia will live up to both the letter and spirit of the comprehensive ban convention, despite the loopholes in its weak national legislation. Our campaigners all over the world will be watching closely to make sure it does everything in its power to ensure cluster bombs are never used again.”

Mette Sofie Elisessen from Cluster Munition Coalition Australia said: “Other countries that are also allies of the US and members of NATO have passed stronger legislation that upholds the intention of the treaty while also providing for military interoperability. It was entirely possible for Australia to do the same, and yet the government has indicated with this legislation that it chooses to put US military interests ahead of humanitarian needs. It is an embarrassing situation for Australia. We wish we could say  that we trust Australia to never actually allow the stockpiling of foreign owned cluster bombs on Australian soil.”

Australia participated extensively in the Oslo Process that created the Convention on Cluster Munitions and signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions at the Oslo signing conference, 3 December 2008.

According to the Cluster Munition Monitor, Australia has never used or exported cluster munitions and has never had an operational stockpile.

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2011.11.23 Ministry for Defence: Australia committed to Cluster Munitions Convention

posted 12 Oct 2012, 02:24 by Mette Sofie Eliseussen

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