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Australia ratifies global treaty to ban cluster munitions

October 17, 2012

Foreign Minister Bob Carr, Attorney-General Nicola Roxon, and Defence Minister Stephen Smith today announced Australia’s commitment to reducing the humanitarian impact of armed conflict has been strengthened with the ratification of a treaty banning the use of cluster munitions.

Senator Carr said the treaty will enter into force for Australia in April 2013.

“Australia has been a strong advocate of an international ban on cluster munitions and an active player in treaty negotiations,” Senator Carr said.

“I’m proud that Australia was one of the first countries to sign the Convention on 3 December 2008.”

Defence Minister Stephen Smith said “Australia’s strong support for the Convention on Cluster Munitions reflects Australia’s longstanding commitment to international efforts to reduce the humanitarian impact of armed conflict.”

Australia’s ratification is another significant step towards securing a global ban on these indiscriminate and dangerous weapons.

Australia will join 76 other States already party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

“Cluster munitions are weapons that can have a tragic impact on communities,” Attorney-General Nicola Roxon said

“With this legislation, it is now an offence to use, stockpile or transfer cluster munitions and also to encourage others to engage with these dangerous weapons.”

In preparation for ratification, the Government has taken steps to ensure that all conduct prohibited by the Convention is the subject of a criminal offence under Australian law.

The Criminal Code Amendment (Cluster Munitions Prohibition) Act 2012 faithfully gives effect to the Convention, and strengthens Australia’s already robust legal framework regarding weapons.

Australia does not have operational stockpiles of cluster munitions and will not approve the stockpiling of cluster munitions in Australia by other countries.

This commitment will be confirmed in Australia’s Annual Transparency Reports under the Convention.

The Convention and the Act will also apply to Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel during military operations and ADF personnel serving alongside the defence forces of States not party to the Convention.

It will be applied in practice through ADF doctrine, procedures, rules and directives, as needed.

The Government remains committed to working with the international community to remediate regions affected by explosive remnants of war, including cluster munitions.

Through the Mine Action Strategy for the Australian Aid Program 2010-2014, Australia has pledged $100 million over five years towards a world free from cluster munitions, landmines and other explosive remnants of war.

Our assistance is helping prevent the world’s poorest people from being indiscriminately maimed and killed and making more land available for food and other productive uses.

One Comment
  1. October 23, 2012 2:13 pm

    Dear Bob

    I’m sure your memory would include the receipt of copious numbers of emails imploring you to ratify the Cluster Bomb Ban Treaty in accordance with the spirit of the Treaty. Many of us who sent in submissions pointing to the shortcomings of Australia’s Ratification pointed to the many loopholes that the Rudd-Gillard government(s) were creating. We are also well read enough to have taken in the cables that were published by WikiLeaks and the several articles published by Philip Dorling and others. This one from Dorling on 2 May 2011 comes to mind: ‘Canberra lobbied secretly to dilute cluster bomb ban’. He supported his arguments with facts, didn’t he? http://www.smh.com.au/national/canberra-lobbied-secretly-to-dilute-cluster-bomb-ban-20110501-1e37t.html

    Then there was Greens Senator Scott Ludlam’s dissenting report and another torrent of letters that the government ignored for many months of 2012. What was all that fuss about if all was well after all? But all is not well is it, because many of us now suspect that you are rushing in to air-brush the whole operation out of sight. I am pleased to say that won’t be as easy as simply saying black is white on your blog. The public record refutes what you are saying.

    If, as you say, “Australia’s commitment to reducing the humanitarian impact of armed conflict has been strengthened with the ratification of a treaty banning the use of cluster munitions”, we should expect that the US forces that are increasingly based/situated/cycled through our country will leave their cluster bombs somewhere else and not bring them in. We should also expect that Australia’s inter-operable armed forces will be reminding their US colleagues not to use cluster bombs and encouraging them to join us in signing the treaty. We will expect that Australians will never, ever be asked to compromise their professional integrity by having any part in their use.

    But that is not how it is according to the wording of the Act that was passed through our Parliament, is it! We have passed the diluted version and we will need to revisit this issue at great public expense to correct this, as you well know. .

    Many of us would be rejoicing if your final statement was entirely true, “Our assistance is helping prevent the world’s poorest people from being indiscriminately maimed and killed and making more land available for food and other productive uses.” That statement will only be supportable in the global court of public opinion when the Act has been remedied to reflect the spirit of the Treaty, and when it is no longer legal for Australian institutions and individuals to invest in cluster bombs. That will be a genuine “significant step towards securing a global ban on these indiscriminate and dangerous weapons”, as you so aptly express it.

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