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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http://bobcarrblog.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/cluster-munitions/

Here are some comments to Bob Carr's thoughts:

Mr Willy Bach

April 2, 2013 3:40 pm

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Bob,

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”.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/01/wikileaks-cables-cluster-bombs-britain

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
http://www.theage.com.au/national/labor-foiled-bomb-treaty-20110501-1e37k.html
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
http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/we-must-do-more-to-help-rid-the-world-of-these-foul-weapons-20110501-1e2t6.html

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
http://blogs.crikey.com.au/this-blog-harms/2011/11/22/labor-votes-to-keep-both-cluster-munitions-loopholes/

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.

Regards
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
https://senate.aph.gov.au/submissions/comittees/viewdocument.aspx?id=c2ef505f-8aef-459a-a51f-d0411b5aa324
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