Big powers refuse to sign cluster bomb treaty
Bombe a grappolo al bando, senza Usa e Russia
ROMA - Centoundici paesi firmano tra oggi e domani ad Oslo il Trattato
per l'eliminazione delle bombe a grappolo, le famigerate 'cluster bomb':
proiettili che spargono centinaia di piccoli ordigni sul terreno, alcuni
dei quali rimangono inesplosi e continuano ad uccidere e mutilare per
anni. Ma il trattato, il cui testo era stato definito a Dublino nel
maggio scorso, rischia di servire a poco. Non vi aderiscono i principali
paesi che costruiscono e usano le cluster bomb: Usa, Russia, Israele,
Cina, India e Pakistan.
By Anne Penketh, Diplomatic Editor
Wednesday, 3 December 2008
America and Russia are two major holdouts in the signing of a landmark
agreement banning cluster bombs which both nations have used in the past
with lethal effect to kill and maim children in Afghanistan.
Britain – a convert to the treaty – is among the 107 nations committed
to signing the treaty which opened for signature today in Oslo. It was
the result of a determined “coalition of the willing” whose campaign to
ban the bombs began after Israel’s 2006 war against Hezbollah in Lebanon.
According to the UN, the Israeli cluster bombs used in that conflict
scattered 4,000,000 bomblets which can be triggered by children
attracted to their bright colours.
However, cluster bombs have been used in recent conflicts despite the
drive to ban them. Both Russia and Georgia – equipped by Israel – are
accused of having used cluster bombs in the Georgia conflict last
summer. According to Human Rights Watch, the bombs, which fire dozens of
bomblets when detonated, killed 17 civilians during the brief, bloody
war and wounded dozens more.
“Today we confirm that cluster bombs are banned for ever,” said
Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg as he opened the conference in
Norway, the nation leading the movement. “Banning cluster bombs took too
long. Too many people lost arms and legs.”
The next to sign today were Laos – another convert which has had to deal
with 400,000 unexploded munitions – and Lebanon. The treaty will come
into effect once ratified by 30 nations.
The campaign was inspired by the successful drive to ban landmines,
which went outside the UN with the support of non-government
organisations to deliver a treaty in 1997. This was despite strong
resistance from a group of states which wanted to keep the weapons.
Campaigners hope that the cluster bomb treaty holdouts will be shamed
into restricting their use or observing a moratorium, as happened with
the 1997 Ottawa treaty. The notable holdouts on cluster bombs – Russia,
the US, China and Israel – are the same nations who refused to sign the