CALL FOR A MORATORIUM ON CLUSTER BOMB USE, MANUFACTURE, SALE AND TRANSFER

The Call for a Moratorium

Over the past 35 years cluster bombs have created a persistent and predictable pattern of indiscriminate injury and death both during and after armed conflicts around the world. People in the countries of Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Lebanon, Afghanistan, the Sudan, Ethiopia, Iraq and Kuwait can readily testify to the terror of unexploded cluster bombs in their fields, gardens, and villages. The recent use of cluster bombs during wars in Serbia/Kosovo and in Chechnya has once again highlighted this tragedy, as casualties continue to mount from cluster bomb use in these areas. Clearly the humanitarian concerns arising from the use of these weapons call for immediate action by the world community. We the undersigned call on all states and non-state actors to agree to:

1. An immediate moratorium on the use, manufacture, sale, and transfer of cluster bombs, including air-dropped cluster munitions, missile launched cluster munitions, and cluster munitions launched by Multiple Launch Rocket Systems and artillery projectiles (Dual Purpose Improved Conventional Munitions).

2. Further regulation or restriction on cluster bomb use, manufacture, sale, and transfer under the Certain Conventional Weapons Treaty or other appropriate international fora.

3. Strong accountability measures for cluster bomb users, related to ordnance clearance and compensation to victims.


What Are Cluster Bombs?

Cluster bombs are small explosive submunitions or bomblets that are delivered to their targets in larger canisters or shells. They can be delivered by air-launched systems (as bombs from aircraft), ground-based artillery systems (such as Dual Purpose Improved Conventional Munitions in artillery shells or submunitions contained in Multiple Launch Rocket Systems), or missile based systems (such as cruise missiles fired from the air, ground, or sea.

Cluster bombs have anti-personnel fragmentation features which can send hundreds of shards of steel at ballistic speeds over a wide area, or shaped charges which can penetrate heavy armor. Many of the cluster bomb canisters carry hundreds of bomblets. A drop of several canisters can easily create kill zones of a square kilometer or greater in size.


A working definition of cluster weapons is as follows: Cluster warheads or other devices with many bomblets which act through the ejection of a great number of small-calibred fragments or pellets, including combined effects and dual purpose munitions.

The Problem with Cluster Bombs: They Kill Indiscriminately Today and Tomorrow

Cluster bombs kill indiscriminately in two ways. First, their wide-area nature and often poor targeting mechanisms nearly guarantee that unintended victims will die or be injured when the weapons function as designed. Secondly, submunitions continue to kill long after the battle is over because of their failure to explode on contact or as designed. Dud rates are often in the 10-15% range, but may range as high as 30%. While the term dud suggests deactivation, in reality many of the duds are armed but failed to function on initial impact. These submunitions may explode at the slightest touch, and are highly lethal, frequently killing more than one person because of their wide fragmentation patterns. Like landmines, cluster munitions must be located and destroyed one by one, a costly and time consuming process.

In 1976, thirteen nations called for a ban on anti-personnel cluster weapons. Those countries were Algeria, Austria, Egypt, Lebanon, Mali, Mauritania, Mexico, Norway, Sudan, Switzerland, Venezuela, and Yugoslavia. They focused on the immediate effects of cluster weapons, stating in a working paper that:

These anti-personnel fragmentation weapons tend to have both indiscriminate effects and to cause unnecessary suffering. At detonation a vast number of small fragments or pellets are dispersed evenly covering a large area with a high degree of probability of hitting any person in the area. The effect of such a detonation on unprotected persons - military or civilian - in the comparatively large target area is almost certain to be severe with multiple injuries caused by many tiny fragments. Multiple injuries considerably raise the level of pain and suffering. They often call for prolonged and difficult medical treatment and the cumulative effect of the many injuries increases the mortality risk. . . . When the normal weapon effect is so extensive as to cover areas of several square kilometers in an attack by a single aircraft, these weapons are hardly capable of use anywhere without hitting civilians incidentally.

The past two decades of experience not only reinforce these conclusions but demonstrate the additional negative side effect of cluster weapons, that being the creation of de facto unmarked minefields.

As with land mines, children often fall victim to submunitions. Attracted by a combination of size, shape, and/or color, children often pick up submunitions and are killed or injured. A recent study sponsored by the International Committee of the Red Cross in Kosovo found that children were five times more likely to be killed or injured by submunitions than by land mines.

Summary

Cluster bombs are not specifically banned or restricted under current international law, even though their indiscriminate effects have been well-documented over the past 35 years. It is time for the international community to implement an immediate moratorium on cluster bomb use, manufacture, sale, and transfer, and actively consider long-term solutions in the context of appropriate international fora.

A response to this Call for a Moratorium, by December 4, 2000 would be welcome, in order to present endorsements for the moratorium to government delegations at the December 2000 preparatory review conference for the Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) Treaty.

Call Issued by Mennonite Central Committee U.S.

Contacts:

Virgil Wiebe Titus Peachey
Fellow, Center for Applied Legal Studies Director, Peace Education
Georgetown University Law Center Mennonite Central Committee U.S.
(For identification purposes only) 21 S. 12th St., Box 500
111 F. St., NW Akron, PA 17501
Washington, DC, 20001 PH: (717) 859-3889
PH: 202 662-9565 tmp@mccus.org
vow@law.georgetown.edu

TO: TITUS PEACHEY
Mennonite Central Committee US

FAX: (717) 859-3875
tmp@mccus.org

CALL FOR A MORATORIUM
ON CLUSTER BOMB USE, MANUFACTURE, SALE AND TRANSFER
(Sign and fax or e-mail by December 4, 2000 as indicated)*

We the undersigned call on all states and non-state actors to agree to:

1 .An immediate moratorium on the use, manufacture, sale, and transfer of cluster bombs, including air-dropped cluster munitions, missile launched cluster munitions, and cluster munitions launched by Multiple Launch Rocket Systems and artillery projectiles (Dual Purpose Improved Conventional Munitions).

2. Further regulation or restriction on cluster bomb use, manufacture, sale, and transfer under the Certain Conventional Weapons Treaty or other appropriate international fora.

3. Strong accountability measures for cluster bomb users, related to ordnance clearance and compensation to victims.


Name_________________________________________
Please indicate if you are signing as an individual or on behalf of your organization

Title__________________________________________


Organization____________________________________


Contact Information (address)________________________


_____________________________________________


(Phone/email)___________________________________


*While endorsements after December 4, 2000 will be welcomed, response by that date will enable us to urge government delegations gathered in Geneva in December to move promptly on this issue.


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