Brazil Pressured on Cluster Bombs

September 6th, 2007 - by admin

Gary Duffy / BBC News & Daniel Schweimler / BBC News – 2007-09-06 22:56:29

Brazil Pressured on Cluster Bombs
Gary Duffy / BBC News

SÃO PAULO (September 4, 2007) — The Brazilian government will come under increasing pressure over its position on cluster bombs at a conference of Latin American countries.

Brazil, which produces cluster bombs, has stayed outside the so-called Oslo Process which seeks to conclude a treaty banning these munitions by 2008. Its government says it would prefer to see the issue dealt under the auspices of the United Nations.

Cluster bombs remain one of the most controversial weapons of war. If these smaller bombs fail to explode, they can pose a hazard to civilians and especially children for many years to come.

The Costa Rica conference is part of a campaign to make Latin America the first region in the world to be completely free of cluster bombs.

Setting an Example
The leading pressure group, the Cluster Munition Coalition, says it has been disappointed by the failure of Brazil, which it describes as a big producer, to take part in the process so far.

Brazil will be represented at the conference in Costa Rica. But it seems likely its position will be a disappointment to campaigners who are pressing for change. The Brazilian government has confirmed that it will be maintaining its stance that this issue would be better dealt with in the multilateral sphere under the auspices of the United Nations.

A spokeswoman said that while slower, the process in the UN would be more effective as it would engage the whole community.

Campaigners say if Brazil was to join the Oslo Process, Latin America would set an example for the rest of the world and they have welcomed a statement from Argentina that it no longer produces or stockpiles the weapon.


Campaigners in Cluster Ban Push
Daniel Schweimler / BBC News

LIMA (May 24, 2007) — Delegates from more than 70 countries are in Peru for the latest stage in their bid to eliminate cluster bombs.

The bombs drop hundreds of smaller bomblets across a wide area, killing and maiming indiscriminately. Campaigners say the bombs continue to cause damage long after they are dropped and are calling for a worldwide ban to be implemented by next year.

An international campaign launched a few years ago largely succeeded in reducing the use of landmines. The campaign used rational argument, shamed the users and highlighted the damage caused to innocent victims.

Now a similar campaign is being run to eliminate cluster bombs. Thousands have been used in Laos and Cambodia, Iraq and Afghanistan and, last year, by the Israelis in Lebanon.

Mistaken for Toys
Hundreds of bomblets are dropped across a wide area in order to cause maximum damage. But many do not detonate and are found, often many years later, by children who mistake them for toys.

Former soldiers, Nobel prize winners, politicians and campaigners from more than 70 countries are in the Peruvian capital, Lima, to speed progress towards a worldwide ban.

Campaigner and British soldier Rae McGrath said there was no military use for cluster bombs. “The impact on civilians far outweighs any small utility that there is and that it’s costing the world a fortune in lives and in money to clear these things up,” he said.

Russia, China and the US are among the major manufacturers but they are not at the conference. Yet the organizers feel they have a strong argument.

Having stigmatized the use of landmines, they hope to achieve the same success in their campaign to eliminate cluster bombs.


Stop Killing Civilians
Stop Cluster

Cluster munitions kill and injure civilians at the time of use because they indiscriminately scatter explosives over such a wide area and many of the bomblets or submunitions fail to explode on impact killing and injuring civilians long after conflict.

The CMC is supporting a new international process to conclude a new treaty that will prohibit these unacceptable weapons and assist individuals and communities in need. This page contains information and resources to help you get involved in the process, including the CMC’s principles that set out the basic standards for the treaty.

Cluster Bombs: Military Fact Files
BBC News

Cluster bombs are controversial weapons consisting of a canister which breaks apart to release a large number of small bombs. A range of so-called bomblets can be employed to attack different targets such as armored vehicles or people — or to start fires.

They can cover a large area but do not have precision guidance. Dropped from medium to high altitudes, they can wander off target.

There is a significant “dud rate” of about 5%. In other words, many do not explode but, rather like landmines, litter the ground with the potential to explode years later. There are said to be thousands in Kosovo.

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