I wrote earlier about cluster bombs in Lebannon. Banning cluster bombs proved impossible to put on the agenda of the U.N. disarmament negotiation table. For some countries, this refusal to even talk about it was enough. 49 countries assembled in Oslo, Norway last week, which resulted (please read carefully) in a statement calling for a ban on the usage, production, trade and storage of cluster bombs. Of those 49, 3 (Romania, Poland and Japan) did not support the vote. The other 46 did (a.o. the U.K., Germany, Italy and my country). Countries refusing to even take part and thus not even there were a.o. the U.S., China, Russia, Australia, Israel, India and Pakistan.

Although I am very sceptical in the sense that calling for a treaty is a long, long way for actual results, I am glad there is a start. The next meeting in Peru, scheduled for either May or June will concentrate on compiling the actual treaty text. I am also glad that more than before, not everybody is being a sitting duck for the sole reason others aren’t moving.

P.S.: The ban on the use of anti-personel mines, initiated by o.a. Human Rights Watch, started like this too. By now, about 150 countries have ratified that treaty. Among those who have NOT ratified are the U.S. and Israel, but they do not use them anymore. What we are talking about are either explosives ripping off feet and legs, but there are also more “sophisticated” types called bounding mines, that jump up using a small explosive to about waist height and then explode their shrapnel in a horizontal plane, wounding or killing as much people as possible.

Added March 20th: The U.K. announced as of today, no “dumb” clusterbombs will be used anymore, only “smart” ones (read: guaranteed to explode completely). OK, again, its a start. I assume the delayed fuse bombs, used to “litter” a field uncrossable, is off limits then too?

Added June 26th:  The use of cluster bombs by my country is “postponed immediately”, although the administration “does not feel this type of ammunition should be forbidden. Use should be possible after special consideration”. Although I welcome the moratorium, it shows exactly the value of a politicians word: the vote described above clearly meant that others should not use this ammunition. Remember please, we vote these people into power.