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Tied Campaigns: Cluster Munitions, Explosive Remnants of War and Anti-personnel Landmines

Updated Wednesday, 02-Oct-2013 15:36:42 EDT

The cluster munitions campaign, following the precedent of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, is beginning to make an impact on state views of banning or restricting cluster munitions. This article examines the history behind the fight to ban or restrict cluster munitions and its ties to the ICBL. The author also discusses the most recent developments in the process to ban or restrict cluster bombs.

The end of the Cold War has a lot to do with the greater attention the world now gives to humanitarian grievances. Unexploded ordnance impact data has been accumulating, but without the precedent of the anti-personnel mine campaign and the Ottawa Convention,1 the Belgians would probably never have considered banning cluster munitions in 2006.

Most of the ICBL’s 1,400 members have limited themselves to APM eradication, victim assistance and other Convention goals, but have not yet rallied in similar numbers to the cluster-munitions effort. The Cluster Munition Coalition, formed in late 2003, has approximately 170 members. Many of the CMC’s members and leadership, however, are seasoned campaigners. Familiar to ICBL-watchers are Handicap International, Human Rights Watch, Landmine Action (UK), Mines Action Canada and Pax Christi, who are among those sitting on CMC’s 10-member steering committee.

The CCW

The ICBL and its dynamic partnership with like-minded APM ban states (the Ottawa Process) was an innovative and collaborative way of quickly moving the ban agenda forward. Disappointment with the existing Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons2 consensus rule (where a single recalcitrant state can dilute or block Convention provisions supported by the majority) led to the parallel process.

The parties to the Ottawa Process focussed on the idea that humanitarian impact can trump military utility.3 This idea was not new because international humanitarian law and an array of treaties from the mid-1800s onwards already referred to obligations towards civilians during conflict, containing such ideas as proportionality, distinction, discrimination, military necessity and humane treatment.

The CMC effort has followed the precedent of the ICBL, struggling through the slow CCW process and challenging the stragglers. If cluster-munition campaigners were unprepared for the inadequacy of the prevention measures of the Convention’s Protocol V4 that were agreed to by governments, they have sober expectations about their prospects now at the CCW. At a minimum, preventing UXO meant establishing acceptable failure rates, banning certain fusing configurations and destroying aging stockpiles. But no mandatory measures to prevent UXO (including cluster munitions) appeared in the final text. Instead, it stated, “Each High Contracting Party is encouraged to take generic preventive measures aimed at minimising the occurrence of explosive remnants of war” and “Each High Contracting Party may, on a voluntary basis, exchange information related to efforts to promote and establish best practices” (emphasis added).4

Protocol V is far off the mark, but campaigners continue to press governments to sign on as a first step to recognising a problem. Some nongovernmental organisations now mull over the idea of an “Ottawa Process” to deal with cluster munitions. While not discounting any future process outside the CCW, Human Rights Watch has called for a new protocol focussed on cluster munitions: “The mandate and the protocol should be broad, and should deal with both the technical reliability issues and the targeting and use issues. ... [A] new protocol should prohibit the use of unreliable and inaccurate submunitions and require their destruction. The billions of unreliable and inaccurate submunitions already in the arsenals of more than 70 nations are the primary humanitarian concern. They must never be used in order to avoid a humanitarian and socioeconomic disaster exceeding that created by millions of landmines globally.”5

Human Rights Watch, one of a handful of early adopters6 was willing to call for a moratorium on cluster munitions in 1999, and in 2003 it named a specific list of problematic cluster weapons that should not be used in Iraq because of their known hazardous failure rates.7

Explosive Remnants of War

Even before the Ottawa Convention was signed, deminers and mine-clearance and other organisations recognized as self-evident a danger from weapons with similar characteristics to anti-personnel mines. There came a proposal from the International Committee of the Red Cross that campaigners and governments should look at all explosive remnants of war, a grouping that initially included unexploded cluster munitions, anti-tank/anti-vehicle mines and APMs, anti-handling devices, artillery shells, bombs, grenades, booby traps and even missiles.8


The roof of a building after a BLU-97 strike in Iraq. Deminers are clearing unexploded munitions so the building can be used as a shopping centre.
Photo courtesy of Andy Smith

Explosive remnants of war captured the boundaries of the contagion, but not all unexploded ordnance posed an equal risk. Some were more visible and more prevalent and others were less likely to explode inadvertently. Some had greater military utility, which made their prohibition more difficult. The ERW nomenclature has been a useful and creative approach to underlining similar humanitarian effects caused by a broad range of munitions. It resulted in a new CCW Protocol (Protocol V), but one with few obligations on member states. Governments eschewed specific preventive measures for fear that more of their arsenal would subsequently be scrutinised, restricted or prohibited. The United Kingdom, in its March 2005 presentation9 to the ERW experts’ working group, while defending the military utility of cluster weapons as an area-effect weapon, readily admitted current models were problematic. (They did not, however, commit to their immediate withdrawal.10)

A significant strike against cluster munitions is their rivalry with APMs for the greatest number of unintended victims. In parts of the world (Laos, for instance), the sheer number of failed cluster munitions poses a hazard as great as or greater than anti-personnel mines.11 A 2002 survey by the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining found the “data available on the casualties of ERW and percentage of UXO cleared again shows a greater bias toward the two main groups—anti-personnel mines and cluster bomblets (submunitions). It is probably the case that they are responsible for most of the casualties in some post-conflict environments.”12

By a process of elimination, then, the effort to address ERW has quickly come to focus primarily on one subgroup (aside from APMs) with the most serious humanitarian impact: cluster munitions.


Near Erbil, Iraq: A cluster bomb unit was released at too low an altitude and these BLU-97 submunitions hit the ground without arming. The CBUs’ damaged state makes them unpredictable and very dangerous.
Photo courtesy of Andy Smith

Failure Rates

Cluster casualties were sometimes the consequence of munitions that erred from their target or that were dropped close to noncombatants—but it is their high failure-to-detonate rate that makes them potential ERW. Official failure rates of cluster munitions often varied from the numbers recorded in the real world. Rae McGrath reported in his resource book, Landmines and Unexploded Ordnance,13 that the 1966 tests of BLU-26 submunitions at Nellis Air Force Base in ideal circumstances revealed a 26-percent failure-to-explode rate after deployment.

Colin King, an international landmine and explosive ordnance disposal consultant, pointed out, “Gulf War I clearly demonstrated a major discrepancy between performance during military ‘acceptance tests’ and operational use. ... [N]early 2,000 electronic mines remained unexploded in the U.S. clearance sector alone, despite achieving near-perfect results during testing."14

Similarly, demining consultant Andy Smith notes, “Formal tests take place on hardpan and with the pilot able to deploy the CBU [cluster bomb unit] in the manner required by the manufacturer. Typically he will be flying at the correct speed, orientation and altitude to ensure optimum performance. In a combat situation, that same pilot may be operating at night and under enemy fire. The target area may include buildings or woodlands and the ground surface may vary from concrete to swamp. Submunitions may be dispersed at a height that does not allow them to complete the arming process before landing; they may strike trees or buildings that prevent them landing in the intended orientation. They may also land on a surface that swallows them up.”15

Emergence of a Cluster Munitions Campaign


Unexploded cluster munitions litter grazing land in Xieng Khouang province, Laos, 1994.
Photo courtesy of Titus Peachey

At the Lugano, Switzerland, conference of experts organised by the International Committee of the Red Cross in 1976, 13 states16 concentrated on the lethal footprint of cluster munitions and the horrific consequences for civilians nearby. However, core cluster-bomb user-states did not sign onto the Lugano statement and there was no reference to detonation failure rates. The critical experience in Laos and Vietnam was that cluster bombs had been targeted at or near noncombatants.17 Many of the deaths from UXO were yet to come. While the Lugano conference did not establish a cluster-bomb campaign, it (and the Lucerne conference) did lead, ultimately, to the creation of the CCW in 1980. Except through advocacy by the Mennonite Central Committee (with clearance work by Mines Advisory Group in Laos) and Human Rights Watch, the problem of cluster munitions might have fallen entirely out of sight. The campaign spark came somewhat later.

Ottawa Convention Impact

Thirty million submunitions were dropped in the 1991 Gulf War, resulting in thousands of untargeted victims—and yet there was no sustained public outcry. Cluster munitions casualties in Kosovo (1999) and Afghanistan (2001), however, did receive attention, as did munition failure rates (normally an esoteric subject area).18 The news media were quick to highlight the similarity in appearance of cluster munitions and yellow food packages dropped into Afghanistan (a confusion that actually had rare, if any, consequences).19 In Canada, where I live, members of Parliament had to respond to inquiries about cluster bombs in question period.20 Government ministers were forced to make contradictory statements. The European Parliament, for its part, took a stand in favour of a moratorium. So what had changed since the Gulf War?

The link between renewed interest in cluster munitions and the international success of the APM ban campaign is unmistakable. The ICBL and Ottawa Convention had highlighted the unacceptability of weapons detonated by innocent victims either directly (death and injury) or indirectly (socioeconomically). All weapon use after the Ottawa Convention bears a new level of scrutiny.21 For many campaigners, this was the best possible result.

The Pace Picks Up

At an International Committee of the Red Cross experts’ meeting in Nyon, Switzerland, in September 2000, explosive remnants of war were officially put on the agenda. Colin King’s breakthrough report, Explosive Remnants of War: A Study of Submunitions and Other Unexploded Ordnance22, was circulated. Nongovernmental organisations and governments met informally, and there was “widespread recognition”23 of the ERW problem and a need to address it.

In December 2001 at the final plenary review conference of the CCW, the ICBL issued its first clear statement in support of those calling for “a moratorium on the use, production and trade of cluster munitions.”24 This was a delicate moment for the ICBL, where many felt that their priority was completing work in progress on APMs. While the Mennonite Central Committee and Human Rights Watch had been publicly campaigning for a moratorium on cluster munitions (sometimes by themselves) for a couple of years, most other member groups were quiet.25 There was some concern that formally linking a cluster-munitions initiative to the landmine campaign would threaten partner governments that had signed the AP Mine Ban Convention. Would linkage jeopardize universalising the Ottawa Convention? Some governments had to wonder if the campaign was now spilling over into non-APM weapons. Where would it stop?

The contrary argument, which was the one that eventually led to the ICBL’s December 2001 statement,26 was that the credibility of a campaign in pursuit of a norm against victim-activated weapons would be put in jeopardy without formally recognizing and condemning the cluster-munitions problem. The ICBL decided to encourage its “members and supporters to work to alleviate the humanitarian impact of cluster munitions and other explosive remnants of war.”26

Recent Developments

Virgil Wiebe, a consultant to the Mennonite Central Committee and law professor at the University of St. Thomas, described a key presentation by the U.S. representative at the CCW in November 2005 as "a jaw-dropping moment.” The official borrowed heavily from a recent task force report that had found no identifiable “comprehensive approach—empirical observation or otherwise—to determine and document operational combat failure rates of U.S. munitions.”27 This is a remarkable admission because it has broader implications than just concerning cluster munitions. But consistent with nongovernmental organisation and field-based evidence, it also confirms that actual CBU failure rates might have little relationship with official “test” claims.28

In March 2006, Timothy McCormack, a professor of international humanitarian law at the University of Melbourne Law School, led a review of the responses to a survey by CCW States Parties regarding their views of the relevance of IHL principles to explosive remnants of war. McCormack concluded that the CCW’s Protocol V should be sufficient to address the problem of ERW—but if not, and the problem “only increases in severity,” the call for a ban on cluster bombs should not be unexpected. Significantly, the report also argued that whatever the outcome, “the onus is on user states to demonstrate that such weapons can be used consistently with the binding obligations of IHL” (emphasis added).29

The announcement that the Belgian government had adopted a comprehensive ban on cluster munitions sent a ripple of optimism through the Cluster Munition Coalition, and thanks to good Belgian timing, it arrived just in advance of the CCW meeting of States Parties in March 2006. In one swoop, the Belgians have changed the complexion of the Cluster Munitions Campaign. While they have set the bar high,30 they have also reinforced the belief that an international ban on something, not just clean-up measures, is now possible. The final ban text has been adopted by both houses of parliament in Belgium as of this writing.

While the most comprehensive ban is in Belgium (Austria is entering a parliamentary debate on a clusters moratorium), several other states have made their reservations known: “Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway,31 Poland, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States have plans to withdraw from service or have destroyed certain types of cluster munitions.”32 Germany and Belgium are considering a strategy of narrowing the definition of cluster munitions so that a ban excludes advanced models that are not expected to be problematic.33 The United States is not Belgium, but even the U.S. military, having distributed its own task-force report in advance of the CCW, seems to be willing to consider major changes in its arsenal. For the first time in a long time, a significant international restriction on certain cluster munitions appears to be within reach.

Continuing Debates

From the start, many ICBL campaigners had difficulty condoning technical measures to address high cluster-munition failure rates. They campaigned against self-destruction/self-deactivation/self-neutralisation solutions for APMs and worry that supporting technical fixes now may compromise an absolutist principle defended earlier. However, what if major players refuse to join an all-out ban on cluster munitions, even if they support a comprehensive ban on anti-personnel mines?

Controversy also surrounds the debate over what an “acceptable” failure rate might look like. Less than 1-percent failure is a typical cut-off point, but is also arbitrary. A very small percentage of a very large number can still be a humanitarian disaster, albeit a much-reduced danger compared with that produced by a 10- to 30-percent failure rate.

Yet, there may be a harm-reduction imperative to prioritising destruction of certain more problematic “worst culprit” munitions, whatever the future holds for a complete ban. There is consensus within the CMC for a moratorium on use, production and trade of cluster munitions until their humanitarian problems have been resolved—but not everyone has been in favour of prioritising.34 Does highlighting the bulk of the problem legitimate what remains? Some worry that humanitarian law will be ignored and they have suggested that cluster munitions might be used more indiscriminately if their failure rates are “fixed.” Will militaries switch to other bombs, causing more casualties, if cluster munitions are banned entirely?35

An interesting reverse-onus framework outlined by Landmine Action (UK) and consistent with one of the conclusions of the McCormack report is that governments should recognise all cluster munitions are assumed prohibited unless users can “opt in” with a guarantee that a particular munition can be used safely.36 Might that approach fit nicely with the destruction of legacy munitions with the highest failure rates?

A final point: If the failure rates of cluster munitions were reduced to nil or next to nil, would there remain a humanitarian problem on a scale sufficient to sustain a campaign for a comprehensive international ban?

Biography

Robin Collins has been active in the APM campaign since 1996, and in the Cluster Munitions campaign since 2000. He represented the United Nations Association in Canada, and was Co-chair and Chair on Mines Action Canada’s board for several years. Currently he is Council Chair of the World Federalist Movement—Canada.

Endnotes

  1. Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction, Oslo, Norway. 18 Sept. 1997; http://www.un.org/Depts/mine/UNDocs/ban_trty.htm. Accessed 26 April 2006. The document was opened for signature in Ottawa, Canada, 3 Dec. 1997, and thus is commonly known as the Ottawa Convention.
  2. Formally known as the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects, Geneva, Switzerland, Oct. 10, 1980. http://www.ccwtreaty.com/KeyDocs/ccwtreatytext.htm. Accessed June 5, 2006.
  3. The humanitarian impact argument was well along and the ICBL was established by the time the ICRC held its symposium of military experts (January 1994) and then produced its report Antipersonnel Landmines: Friend or Foe? in March 1996. That statement, because it was a declaration of military professionals, and not NGOs (and was endorsed by the politically neutral ICRC), had a much greater impact than the slimness of its text might suggest. Among its many conclusions, these were some of the most significant:
    • “The main characteristic of a mine is that it is designed to be victim-actuated.”
    • “Although the military value of anti-tank mines is acknowledged, the value of AP mines is questionable.”
    • “The limited military utility of AP mines is far outweighed by the appalling humanitarian consequences of their use in actual conflicts.”
  4. “Protocol on Explosive Remnants of War (Protocol V to the 1980 Convention) [see endnote 3], 28 Nov. 2003.” International Committee of the Red Cross. http://www.icrc.org/IHL.nsf/FULL/610?OpenDocument. Accessed 5 April 2006.
  5. “Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW): Re-focus on Cluster Munitions for 2006.” Human Rights Watch. 6 March 2006. http://hrw.org/english/docs/2006/03/06/global12768.htm. Accessed 5 April 2006.
  6. Mennonite Central Committee, Human Rights Watch, UK Working Group on Landmines (Landmine Action), ICRC, Campaign Against Landmines—New Zealand and Amnesty International were among those who called for strong action on cluster munitions early on.
  7. “Persian Gulf: U.S. Cluster Bomb Duds a Threat: Warning Against Use of Cluster Bombs in Iraq.” Human Rights Watch. 18 March 2003. http://hrw.org/english/docs/2003/03/18/usint5409.htm. Accessed 5 April 2006.
  8. The definition of ERW evolved. Currently it incorporates UXO plus stockpiles, with APMs sometimes falling out of the grouping because of their coverage in the Ottawa Convention.
  9. ”Military Utility of Cluster Munitions.” Group of Governmental Experts of the States Parties to the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May be Deemed to be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects. Prepared by the United Kingdom. Tenth Session, Geneva, 7–11 March 2005. http://www.mineaction.org/downloads/GGE%20X%20UK%20paper%20on%20military%20utility%20of%20cluster%20munitions.doc. Accessed 14 April 2006.
  10. The UK government’s reticence about cluster munitions is shadowed by a significant interest by its military in retaining an area-target weapon, as is evident in a background paper presented to the CCW experts’ group.
        “The persistent nature of cluster munitions when they fail to explode forms one of the most problematic aspects of these munitions. The United Kingdom accepts that its air-dropped cluster bombs have a failure rate that is unacceptably high. This particular weapon will go out of service in coming years and by 2015 all UK submunitions will contain a self-destruct mechanism reducing their failure rate to less than 1 percent.”
        “Currently cluster munitions represent an essential capacity against area targets, particularly groups of military vehicles. Stringent considerations of the risk of collateral damage are applied each time they are used. In the long term they are likely to be used more sparingly, as new precision weapons come into service, and may one day be removed from service altogether.” From “Military Utility of Cluster Munitions.” Group of Governmental Experts of the States Parties to the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May be Deemed to be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects. Prepared by the United Kingdom. Tenth Session, Geneva, 7–11 March 2005. http://www.mineaction.org/downloads/GGE%20X%20UK%20paper%20on%20military%20utility%20of%20cluster%20munitions.doc. Accessed 14 April 2006.
  11. This is documented by Mennonite Central Committee, Mines Advisory Group, the ICRC and the GICHD, among others. See for instance the document CCW/GGE/I/WP.5 at: http://ccwtreaty.com/KeyDocs/GGE1/CCW-GGE-I-WP5-E.pdf. Accessed May 23, 2006.
  12. “Explosive Remnants of War (ERW): A Threat Analysis.” Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining. 2002. http://www.gichd.ch/fileadmin/pdf/publications/ERW.pdf. Accessed 5 April 2006.
  13. McGrath, Rae. Landmines and Unexploded Ordnance. London: Pluto Press, 2000.
  14. King, Colin. Explosive Remnants of War: Submunitions and Other Unexploded Ordnance: A Study. International Committee of the Red Cross, Geneva 2000.
  15. Smith, Andy. “Submunitions and Fuzes.” AVS Website on Humanitarian Demining. Last updated April 2006. http://www.nolandmines.com/index%20mines%20subs%20and%20fuzes.htm. Accessed 17 April 2006.
  16. Algeria, Austria, Egypt, Lebanon, Mali, Mauritania, Mexico, Norway, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Venezuela and Yugoslavia. The 13-state working group paper noted, “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.”
  17. In the 1960s, the New York Times’ Harrison Salisbury described the U.S. carpet bombing strategy directed at civilians in Vietnam as a war crime.
  18. Fernando Termentini refers to an average 50-percent failure rate of BLU-97 submunitions in two villages in Afghanistan in “From Kosovo to Afghanistan, Cluster Bombs Again.” (August 2003) Journal of Mine Action, Volume 7.2, pp. 71–72. http://www.jmu.edu/cisr/journal/7.2/focus/fernando/fernando.htm. Accessed 7 April 2006.
  19. Goose, Steve, personal communication, 12 April 2006.
  20. A question period is the debate segment of the Canadian Parliament’s House of Commons (more or less at the end of each day Parliament is in session).
  21. Indirectly, this might have been a goal of the ICRC’s ERW strategy: Peter Herby, a legal specialist with the ICRC, suggested at a workshop in Ottawa in 1996 that it might be more useful to prohibit a weapon's effects than a narrowly defined weapon itself. Herby was concerned that a single-weapon campaign might mean that every time a new weapon was introduced, a new campaign would need to be launched.
  22. Commissioned by the International Committee of the Red Cross, August 2000.
  23. “Explosive Remnants of War: Protecting Civilians through an Additional Protocol to the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.” International Committee of the Red Cross. http://www.icrc.org/Web/Eng/siteeng0.nsf/iwpList282/6F9EDAB90FFC82FEC1256B66005F9B14. Accessed 5 April 2006.
  24. Qtd. in Knudsen, Kjell. “Landmine Update #6.” International Campaign to Ban Landmines. 1 Dec. 2001. http://www.icbl.org/news/icbl_news/landmine_update_6. Accessed 14 April 2006.
  25. In fact, at the Second Prepcom of the 2001 Review Conference of the CCW on 6 April 2001, the ICBL stated that the Campaign "as a coalition has decided not to add issues such as those related to anti-vehicle mines and submunitions to its mandate" and told government delegates, “Do not turn your attention to the humanitarian problem of anti-vehicle mines and submunitions, while still failing to deal with the humanitarian problem of anti-personnel mines.”
  26. ICBL Statement on Cluster Munitions and Explosive Remnants of War. International Campaign to Ban Landmines. 19 Dec. 2001, Geneva, Switzerland. http://www.icbl.org/news/archive/old/137. Accessed 1 July 2006.
  27. The US Defense Science Board Task Force on Munitions System Reliability report continues: “The available data is inconsistent, largely anecdotal, and often from questionable sources. Area attack munitions in particular—designed to produce dispersed battlefield effects—can be highly effective in combat but difficult to analyse afterward. There is no method in place that can systematically determine and document the reliability rates of a broad range of munitions during combat. The largest contributors to the UXO problem are legacy munitions, operational factors and fuze technologies. There is an enormous stockpile of aging munitions that will have to be used ‘as is,’ retrofitted or demilitarized, but the Department of Defense (DoD) has no comprehensive approach in place to address these legacy munitions. Retrofitting the existing stockpile could easily run into the billions of dollars. Retrofitting is not without other challenges as well, namely meeting revised safety standards and risking the introduction of new failure points in legacy systems never designed for upgrades. The operational question then becomes one of priorities and the cost-benefit analysis of retrofitting older munitions at the expense of developing and fielding more capable, reliable, safe and effective munitions.” It should be noted, however, that “legacy” weapons highlighted in the task force report are not the precise problem. Colin King has pointed out in his study of ERW for the Red Cross that it is "neither fair nor accurate to equate all unexploded submunitions with mines." While munitions equipped with problem fusing designs are certainly known to be dangerous, others, like the AO-1SCh fuse, are "inherently safe." From Colin King, Explosive Remnants of War: Submunitions and Other Unexploded Ordnance. International Committee of the Red Cross, Geneva 2000.
  28. The U.S. military had already recognized that some cluster munitions were problematic because of their impact on U.S. troops in the Persian Gulf and elsewhere. (See: U.S. General Accounting Office, “GAO-02-1003: Military Operations: Information on U.S. Use of Land Mines in the Persian Gulf War,” September 2002).
  29. McCormack, Timothy L.H. Mtharu, P. B. & Finnin, S. Report on States Parties’ Responses to the Questionnaire: International Humanitarian Law & Explosive Remnants of War. 1 March 2006. http://www.gichd.ch/fileadmin/pdf/CCW/XIIIth_Mtg_Mar06/GICHD_Critical_analysis_CCW_
    McCormack_Report.pdf. Accessed 5 April 2006.
  30. The sole exceptions in the Belgian definition of cluster munition were minor but possibly provide wiggle-room for the military. As of 22 March 2006, the adopted text excluded: “dispensers that only contain smoke-producing material or illuminating material or material exclusively conceived to create electric or electronic counter-measures; systems that contain several munitions only designed to pierce and destroy armored vehicles, that can only be used to that end without any possibility to indiscriminately saturate combat zones, including by the obligatory control of their trajectory and destination, and that, if applicable, can only explode at the moment of the impact, and in any case cannot explode by the presence, proximity or contact of a person."
  31. The government of Norway committed in 2005 to “work towards an international ban on cluster bombs.”
  32. The LAUK report, Compelling Options, finds that concerns about the reliability and effects of “legacy munitions” has resulted in significant international shifts at the state level.
  33. One exclusion that has been scrutinized is for individually guided submunitions equipped with self-destruct/self-neutralisation mechanisms.
  34. In March 2003, Human Rights Watch identified four specific U.S. cluster munitions of concern as likely to be problematic in Iraq due to the Coalition invasion. They called for a suspension and withdrawal of cluster munitions “that have been tested and identified as producing high dud rates.” http://www.hrw.org/backgrounder/arms/cluster031803.htm. Accessed 23 May 2006. Colin King listed a range of problem munitions and mechanisms in his Explosive Remnants of War: Submunitions and Other Unexploded Ordnance: A Study, ICRC, Geneva 2000. Accessed 7 April 2006.
  35. Several governments, including Canada and the United Kingdom, have argued that in the absence of cluster munitions, they will need to use other weapons with potentially worse impacts on civilians.
  36. Rappert, Brian. Compelling Options: What is the Case for a Ban on Cluster Munitions? (draft). Commissioned by Landmine Action (UK).

Contact Information

Robin Collins
2068 Benjamin Avenue
Ottawa, ON K2A 1N9 / Canada
Tel: +1 613 759 4142
E-mail: Robinco@sympatico.ca

World Federalist Movement—Canada
207-145 Spruce Street
Ottawa, ON K1R 6P1 / Canada
Tel: +1 613 232-0647
Fax: +1 613 563-0017
Web site: http://www.worldfederalistscanada.org/