Published on October 29th, 2009
Press release: campaign calls on governments to stop funding production of cluster bombs
Almost one year on from the historic signing of the Convention on Cluster Munitions in Oslo in December 2008, campaigners have today launched a call on governments to stem the flow of money to producers of these indiscriminate weapons. The new CMC campaign is entitled ‘stop explosive investments’.
“Governments made history when they signed the cluster bomb ban last year. Now they need to make it clear that funding the production of cluster bombs is unacceptable and undermines the spirit of the ban,” said Thomas Nash, coordinator of the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC), a global network of non-governmental organizations that spearheaded the successful campaign to ban the weapon.
The 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions is an international treaty that bans the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster munitions and requires countries to assist survivors and affected communities and clear contaminated land. So far 101 countries have signed the ban and 23 have already ratified it. Seven more must ratify to reach the threshold of 30 that will trigger entry into force six months later. At that point, likely to be in mid-2010, the legal obligations, including the ban on production and investments, will become legally binding on all parties to the treaty.
“As we’ve seen with antipersonnel landmines, once nations decide to ban a weapon under international law, it quickly becomes morally and commercially unviable, as well as illegal,” said Miriam Struyk of IKV Pax Christi in the Netherlands. “As we count down to the cluster bomb ban’s entry into force, governments must recognize this reality and put in place laws or policies that explicitly prohibit any investment in these indiscriminate weapons.”
Like the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, the Convention on Cluster Munitions is expected to save millions of lives and create a new global norm against the weapon. The two weapons ban treaties contain the same prohibition on assistance with banned acts, which has been interpreted as prohibiting investment in makers of the banned weapon. The cluster bomb ban requires countries to enact national laws to enforce it. The CMC is calling on governments to ensure these laws explicitly prohibit investment in cluster bomb production.
Since the 1997 landmine ban, the production of antipersonnel mines has been nearly extinguished. However, cluster bombs continue to be produced by companies operating in countries outside the Convention on Cluster Munitions. These companies are financed by a range of banks and financial institutions around the world.
A new report launched today by CMC members IKV Pax Christi and Netwerk Vlaanderen finds that some banks and other financial institutions in countries that have signed the ban, such as the UK, Germany and Japan, are continuing to invest in companies producing cluster bombs. The report, entitled “Worldwide investments in cluster munitions: a shared responsibility,” names 138 financial institutions that are investing in cluster bomb producers. Over $5 billion USD is being provided in loans to cluster bomb producers, over $4.2 billion USD is provided in investment banking services, and $11.8 billion USD is owned or managed in shares and bonds.
“Banning cluster bombs but allowing continued investment in their production is a clear double standard. You cannot ban a weapon because of the humanitarian harm it causes but allow banks to continue profiting from the production of these weapons somewhere else,” said Nash.
Belgium, Ireland and Luxembourg have prohibited investment in cluster bombs through national law, setting a strong precedent that other countries should follow. Furthermore, government-managed pension funds in New Zealand and Norway have excluded cluster bomb producers from the lists of companies in which they invest.
“It can be difficult for people in countries not affected by cluster bombs to identify with this ‘far away’ problem, but most people in such countries have bank accounts so they may be inadvertently contributing to cluster bomb production. By getting involved in this campaign people can really make a difference,” said Khaled Yamout of Norwegian People’s Aid – Lebanon, one of CMC’s member organizations.
About cluster bombs
A cluster munition (or cluster bomb) is a weapon containing multiple – often hundreds – of small explosive submunitions or bomblets. Cluster munitions are dropped from the air or fired from the ground and designed to break open in mid-air, releasing the submunitions over an area that can be the size of several football fields. This means they cannot discriminate between civilians and soldiers. Many of the submunitions fail to explode on impact and remain a threat to lives and livelihoods for decades after a conflict.
On Monday 26 October a 20-year-old man was injured by an unexploded cluster bomb in southern Lebanon. The unexploded cluster bomb, left over from Israel’s massive use of cluster bombs in its 2006 conflict with Hezbollah, exploded while the man was gathering firewood for the coming winter.
About the Convention on Cluster Munitions
The Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) bans the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster munitions and requires countries to clear affected areas within 10 years and destroy stockpiles of the weapon within eight. The CCM includes groundbreaking provisions requiring assistance to victims and affected communities. Signed in Oslo in December 2008, it is the most significant international disarmament treaty since the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty banning antipersonnel landmines.
About the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC)
The CMC is an international coalition of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working in 80 countries to encourage urgent action against cluster bombs. The CMC facilitates NGO efforts worldwide to educate governments, the public and the media about the problems of cluster munitions and to urge universalisation and full implementation of the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions.
Visit the new CMC campaign at: www.stopexplosiveinvestments.org/.
The following 101 countries have signed the Convention
Afghanistan, Albania, Angola, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Comoros, DR Congo, Republic of Congo, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Côte D’Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, El Salvador, Fiji, France, Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Haiti (29/10/09), The Holy See, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Lao PDR, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar , Malawi, Mali, Malta, Mexico, Republic of Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Rwanda, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tomé and Principe, St. Vincent and Grenadines, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Slovenia, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Zambia.
Of these, the following 23 countries have ratified the Convention
Albania (16 Jun 2009), Austria (2 Apr 2009), Burundi (25 Sep 2009), Croatia (17 Aug 2009), The Holy See (3 Dec 2008), France (25 Sep 2009), Germany (8 Jul 2009), Ireland (3 Dec 2008), Japan (14 Jul 2009), Lao PDR (18 Mar 2009), Luxembourg (10 Jul 2009), Macedonia (8 Oct 2009), Malawi (7 Oct 2009), Malta (24 Sep 2009), Mexico (6 May 2009), Niger (2 Jun 2009), Norway (3 Dec 2008), San Marino (10 Jul 2009), Sierra Leone (3 Dec 2008), Slovenia (19 Aug 2009), Spain (17 Jun 2009), Uruguay (24 Sep 2009), Zambia (12 Aug 2009).
About the new report
Financial institutions in 10 countries that have signed the Convention are investing in cluster munition producers: Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Of these countries, France, Germany, Japan and Spain have also ratified the Convention. Financial institutions in five countries and territories that have not signed the Convention are investing in cluster munition producers: Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Turkey and the United States of America as well as Taiwan.