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Contact: Philippa Winkler 928 774 1765 (USA)
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Efforts by the US/UK to keep depleted uranium off the agenda of
the UN Sub-Commission on Protection and Promotion of Human Rights failed
this August as the Sub-Commission clearly decided that depleted uranuim
weaponry qualify as weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and authorized a
prominent member, Justice Y. Sik Yuen (Mauritius) to prepare a study on
the topic. The UK member of the Sub-Commisson tried to have depleted
uranium weaponry deleted from the study, which had been authorized
earlier by the Sub-Commission, arguing that DU weaponry are not WMD, but her
proposed amendments and a substitute resolution were defeated,
drawing only two votes -- hers and the vote of the member from Norway.
The debate as well as the outcome reinforces the claim made by Karen Parker
and supported by a clear majority of international experts --including
23 of the 26 members of the Sub-Commission -- that DU is already
banned because it is incompatible with existing humanitarian law and
qualifies as WMD. (The  American member was chair and did not vote, but
according to eyewitnesses allowed the Norwegian member to speak beyond the
limits usually allocated for such debates.)

The vote to study weapons of mass destruction including DU is the
latest success of UN non-governmental organizations (NGOs), who,
beginning in 1996, started a campaign for a strong condemnation of both
DU and sanctions. In 1996 attorney Karen Parker, Margarita
>Papendreou, Dr. Beatrice Boctor, Philippa Winkler and Dr. Horst Gunther (all
representing International Educational Development/Humanitarian Law
Project (IED/HLP)) made a two prong charge against both DU and sanctions at
that year's session of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights. Then, at the 1996
session of the Sub-Commission, following a speech made by attorney Karen
Parker on
behalf of IED/HLP and extensive lobbying by her and Fabio Marcelli (Italy) on
the effects of DU on Iraq, a resolution was adopted by the Sub-Commission that
included depleted uranium weaponry on a list of other "bad" weapons and
asked the Secretary-General to present a report on these weapons to the 1997
session of the Sub-Commission. The report was to reflect submissions
from governments, NGOs and others. The Secretary-General's report was
submitted on schedule in 1997,thanks to the efforts of Karen Parker, Damacio
Lopez, Felicity Arbuthnot,Philippa Winkler and others and was issued as U.N.
Doc.E/CN.4/Sub.2/1997/27 and Add. 1.That year the Sub-Commission decided to
appoint one of its members, Mme Forero Ucros (Columbia), to prepare a
working paper preparatory to a full study. Unfortunately Mme Forero never
returned to the Sub-Commission, with many saying this was because of US

The same year, however, the Sub-Commission moved on the sanctions
issue, and adopted a resolution on economic sanctions -- responding again to
a speech by Karen Parker.  Unfortunately, that resolution's author, Marc
Bossuyt (Belgium) was ill the following year, and was unable to attend
the Sub-Commisison's session. When he returned in 1999, the Sub-Commission
authorized him to prepare a working paper on sanctions, issued as UN
Doc. E/CN.4/Sub.2/2000/33.

Following the departure of Mme Forero, there were changes in
the membership of the  Sub-Commission, and the "team" was uncertain
whether it was necessary or useful to go forward with a study on DU and the
other listed weapons, in part because (1) the Sub-Commission had already
labeled DU as a WMD, and (2) the Secretary-General's report contained
substantial portions of both the Parker Memorandum on Weapons, the submission
the International Indian Treaty Council and a number of countries, all
essentially implying the same thing -- DU weaponry is incompatible with
existing international humanitarian law and human rights norms.
However, during these three years, the NGOs at the UN continued to present
seminars, films and keep up the pressure. In 1999, the video documentary "From
Radioactive Mines to Radioactive Weapons" was shown at the Commission. The
documentary linked the health impacts of uranium mining on Navajo miners to
the impacts of DU weapons, and described tests done by Dr Hari Sharma showing
the presence of DU in Gulf War veterans including Ray Bristow. The number of
UN NGOs presenting statements on DU continued to grow. At the 2001 session of
the Sub-Commission, one of the most respected members of the Sub-Commission,
Justice Y. Sik Yuen (Mauritius) agreed to go forward with the study. (Karen
Parker had
tried to convince him to take on this study for several years, but he had
already been assigned another study). By Thursday of the first week of the
2001 session, the draft resolution was tabled (submitted) with 16
co-sponsors.  The final debate on the draft became, as Karen Parker says,
a "dream come true." The US and UK tried to urge that DU is a 'conventional'
weapon and therefore 'legal.' So the debate really shows that
these two countries are backed into a corner, and the rest of the world
that DU is and always was illegal." (Please note: There have been many NGOs
who have contributed to this effort at the Sub-Commission and we apologize if
some have not been mentioned by name.)
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The documents from the Sub-Commission are not yet all posted
>on the UN web-site, and as soon as they are available, we will let you

In the meantime, Karen Parker  will be assisting Justice Sik Yuen on
>this study, and requests that people begin to collect the latest relevant
information to transmit to her at if they are small enough. Larger
documents may be transmitted to her office by mail. Funds to assist this
effort may be made out to Karen Parker directly, of for those wishing to make
a tax-exempt contribution, to the Association of Humanitarian Lawyers, and
sent to The Law Offices of Karen Parker, 154-5th Avenue, San Francisco, CA
94118, USA.
> >
Below is the relevent press release from the UN website

                 Press Release



                                           Subcommission on the Promotion
                                             and Protection of Human Rights
                                                           53rd session
                                                         16 August 2001

The Subcommission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights this
afternoon adopted a number of resolutions and measures which, among other
things, requested its members to carry out studies on human rights and weapons
of mass destruction; the transfer and use of small arms in the context of
human rights; the return of refugees' or displaced persons' property; and

Concerning weapons, the Subcommission, by a show of hands vote of 21 in favour
and 2 against, approved a decision that asked Subcommission Expert Y.K.J.
Sik Yuen to prepare a paper on human rights and weapons of mass destruction.
the report, he would assess the utility, scope and structure of a study on the
real and potential dangers to the effective enjoyment of human rights posed by
the testing, production, storage, transfer, trafficking, or use of weapons of
mass destruction with indiscriminate effect, or of a nature to cause
superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering, including the use of weaponry
containing depleted uranium.

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