There seems to be little publicity about Canada's role at the Dublin conference. A large number of nations are going to sign on to banning the bombs but instead of playing a leading role as we did in banning landmines Canada is dragging its feet and trying to weaken the declaration. Presumably this reflects Harper's friendly feelings towards US imperialism rather than his love for China or Russia who also oppose the ban. This is from newswire.
The final declaration is due out tomorrow. We will see what Canada does and if the Harper govt. says anything.
Campaigners call on Harper to support a ban on cluster bombs - Survivors and Canadian campaigners protest at embassy in Dublin DUBLIN, Ireland, May 27 /CNW Telbec/ - Canadian campaigners at the
diplomatic negotiations today called on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to
support a strong treaty to ban cluster bombs. In the first week of
negotiations the Canadian position has been dominated by its insistence to
weaken the treaty especially around joint military operations. Canadian
campaigners today handed over a letter of protest to the embassy in Dublin.
"It is vital that we protect Canadian servicemen and women from
prosecution in joint military operations and as with landmines there are legal
solutions to this, but there is no way that this should allow countries
signing up to the treaty to actively assist others who have not signed to use
these indiscriminate weapons." Said Paul Hannon, Executive Director, Mines
Action Canada/Action Mines Canada.
As a participant in the negotiations, Canada has been applying pressure
to change language in the dratft tretay which could allow signatory countries
to intentionally assist others with the use of cluster munitions in joint
military operations. Other countries also pushing hard for this
"interoperability" provision, which would clearly undercut the integrity of
the treaty, include the United Kingdom, Japan, Australia and the Netherlands.
Sixteen year old cluster bomb survivor Soraj Ghulam Habib from
Afghanistan, who handed over the letter to the Canadian embassy official said:
"I was at a picnic in the park with my family when a cluster bomb blew off
both my legs - these weapons destroy lives and communities and should be
banned by all countries, including Canada."
To protest about their government's questionable position, Canadian
campaigners along with cluster bomb survivors today went to the embassy in
Dublin to deliver a letter calling for Canadian support for a strong treaty.
Amelie Chayer a campaigner from Montreal, who helped deliver the letter
to embassy said: "Countries around the world have made exceptional progress
toward a strong treaty to ban these deadly indiscriminate weapons and there is
no excuse for Canada to not do the same."
Both landmines and cluster bombs remain active and armed after the
conflict and continue to maim and kill civilians for decades. Ten years ago,
Canada played a leading role in the Ottawa Treaty banning landmines, which
resulted in the Ottawa convention to ban landmines and the 1997 Nobel Peace
Prize. A decade on, Canada has been one of the leading countries trying to
weaken the new treaty to ban cluster bombs. Campaigners are concerned about
the change in the Canadian position as historically Canada has been known and
respected around the world for its peacekeeping and post-conflict assistance.
"We are naturally concerned that the Canadian government appears to be
prioritizing hypothetcical military situations over real humanitarian
concerns." said Allan Shiff, Chairman of the Cluster Munitions Committee,
Human Rights Watch.
The treaty process was launched in Oslo, Norway in February 2007 when 46
nations agreed to conclude a treaty prohibiting cluster munitions "that cause
unacceptable harm to civilians" in 2008. The treaty text was developed during
international meetings in Peru, Austria, and New Zealand.
Banning an entire class of weapon will have an effect well beyond the
signatories of the treaty. The stigmatisation of this weapon in practice will
extend to all countries stockpiling and using them. Despite the fact that the
US, Russia and China did not sign the Ottawa Treaty banning antipersonnel
landmines in 1997, there has since been virtually no production, trade or use
of the weapon anywhere in the world by governments.
The negotiations are scheduled to conclude on Friday, May 30, when the
participating states will adopt the final text of the treaty; no further
changes can be made after that point. The treaty will then be opened for
signature to all countries-even those not present during the negotiations-in
Oslo, Norway on December 2-3, 2008. After signing the treaty, countries still
need to ratify it, usually through legislative approval, before it becomes
fully legally binding.