Press Release: Concerns over UK approach to proposed new law weakening cluster bomb ban
(London, Monday 7 November 2011) A group of peers and MPs met with Alistair Burt MP, Minister for Counter Proliferation on Monday to express concern about the forthcoming negotiations on cluster munitions in Geneva.
Cluster munitions are prohibited by the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions. The United Kingdom ratified this treaty in May 2010 and is one of 22 out of 28 NATO countries on board the ban. In total 111 states have joined the treaty.
In response to this ban, the United States has been leading a separate process within the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons to negotiate a new protocol that would prohibit the use of some cluster munitions, but still allow for the indefinite use, production and transfer of many other cluster munitions responsible for civilian deaths in recent conflicts.
A decision to adopt or reject this protocol will be taken at a diplomatic meeting at the United Nations in Geneva from 14-25 November.
The delegation of peers and MPs from all major parties set out their concern that the adoption of a protocol based on the current draft would make it more likely that cluster munitions will be used in the future, putting more civilian lives at risk, and make it more difficult to secure universal adherence to the existing ban treaty.
“The UK’s role in securing an international ban on cluster bombs in 2008 showed the best of what Britain can do in the world,” said Pauline Latham OBE MP. “We must not allow this ban to be undermined by pressure from nations that are not yet ready to abandon these illegal and indiscriminate weapons.”
Parliamentarians who attended the meeting with the Minister included Lord Elton, Lord Dubs, Lord Hannay, Lord Ramsbotham, Martin Caton MP, Pauline Latham OBE MP, and Caroline Lucas MP. Lord Jay and Baroness Williams also expressed support for the delegation.
An adjournment debate on cluster munitions, requested by Martin Caton MP, will take place on Wednesday 9 November in the House of Commons.
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