Project Ploughshares: Call to Action: Help fix flawed cluster bomb bill
Petition launched to fix flawed cluster bomb bill
Today Mines Action Canada is launching a petition calling on the federal government to fix the bill on cluster munitions. The draft legislation was introduced in the Senate on April 25 asBill S-10, An Act to implement the Convention on Cluster Munitions. The legislation is required to enable the implementation the international Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) in Canada, which comprehensively bans all cluster munitions.
Mines Action Canada believes the draft bill has significant omissions and serious flaws which could have fatal consequences for innocent civilians. Cluster munitions cause predictable and unacceptable harm to civilians, both at the time of use and for many years after. The draft legislation might permit the use of cluster bombs by Canadian troops fighting alongside countries that still refuse to join the international treaty banning these indiscriminate weapons.
As a country which has never produced or used cluster munitions and has begun destroying its small stockpile Canada should have the best legislation in the world. This current draft is the weakest legislation anywhere. “Canada was one of the first countries in the world to sign the CCM and has been done a lot of positive things to date. Unfortunately, all of that good will be erased instantly if this bill passes unchanged” said Paul Hannon, Executive Director of Mines Action Canada. “With this petition we are asking Canadian citizens, and those around the world concerned about protecting innocent civilians, to send a clear message to the government that the bill must be fixed.”
The draft bill omits many of the positive obligations of the treaty such as promoting the treaty, destroying stockpiles and informing military allies of our obligations under the treaty. It makes no mention of prohibiting investment in the production of cluster bombs. The draft legislation includes a large section though on military cooperation much of which could be interpreted as allowing Canadian Forces personnel to be involved with the use of this banned weapon in some circumstances. Mines Action Canada believes Canada can easily preserve its ability to conduct joint military operations effectively without assisting the use of cluster munitions as is the case for the majority of our NATO allies.
The Convention on Cluster Munitions is the most significant international humanitarian or disarmament treaty since the 1997 Ottawa Treaty banning antipersonnel landmines. As with the landmine treaty, the Convention on Cluster Munitions comprehensively bans the use of an indiscriminate weapon because the humanitarian harm it causes far outweighs any military benefit. “The drafters of this domestic legislation may inadvertently permit the use of a banned weapon which is unacceptable” added Hannon. “We need to rebalance this legislation to put the protection of innocent civilians at its core. Now it is time for Senators and Members of Parliament to fix the bill to ensure that no Canadian should ever be involved in the use of cluster munitions for any reason, anywhere, at any time, for anyone.”
The MAC petition can be reached here http://bit.ly/fixthebillca
Paul Hannon, Executive Director
Mines Action Canada
Phone: +1 613 241-3777
Cell: +1 613 851-5430
Notes to editors:
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. 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.
About the Convention on Cluster Munitions:
The Convention on Cluster Munitions 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 Convention includes groundbreaking provisions requiring assistance to victims and affected communities. Signed in Oslo in December 2008, the Convention entered into force as binding international law on 1 August 2010. A list of countries which have signed and ratified the treaty can be accessed here www.stopclustermunitions.org/treatystatus
About Mines Action Canada
Formed in 1994 Mines Action Canada (MAC) is a coalition of Canadian non-governmental organizations concerned with the human and socio-economic impacts of landmines and other weapons causing similar humanitarian impacts. It is the Canadian partner of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), the 1997 co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize and is also a founding member of the Cluster Munition Coalition.
Cluster Bombs, Canada and You
“Lacklustre with the Cluster”
That was how CBC’s As It Happens radio show introduced an item on Canada’s draft legislation to implement the Convention on Cluster Munitions. While it is a clever quip it also, unfortunately. is a serious understatement.
In our last E-news we asked whether Canada’s expected legislation on cluster munitions would be the best or the worst in the world? On April 25 the draft legislation was introduced in the Senate. Sadly this draft bill easily qualifies as the worst legislation in the world. There are some significant omissions and a lot of problematic text in the current draft.
Fortunately there is time to fix the bill and that is what we will be trying hard to do over the next several months. We’ll need your help!
In the next few days we will be launching a petition on the legislation as the first of many actions we have planned. We encourage you to not only sign it, but to make all your friends, family, colleagues and networks aware of it. We need to show the government that being lacklustre on clusters is not acceptable.
We’ll also shortly be issuing a special edition of the E-news outlining the weaknesses and problems with current draft text and providing examples of how we can turn this into the best legislation in the world. We set the gold standard on landmines and we need to do it again for cluster bombs!
If you are on Facebook then please like the Mines Action Canada page. Regular updates will be posted there. If you are on Twitter please follow the hash tag #fixthebill. Also please check our website regularly for how you can Learn, Act and Give to ensure your Canada does not include cluster bombs.
“and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation; neither shall they learn war any more.”