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[casi] Brit/US against UN bomb provisions

Britain tries to weaken UN deal on cluster bombs,11816,985136,00.html
Owen Bowcott
Thursday June 26, 2003
The Guardian

Britain and the United States are attempting to weaken the provisions of an
international treaty requiring belligerents to clear up unexploded cluster
bombs after the end of any conflict, according to the group Landmine Action.

Talks have been going on for 10 days in Geneva to reach consensus on a
protocol under the United Nations convention on conventional weapons. Draft
proposals would oblige countries to pay for the safe destruction of cluster
bombs they had used during a war.

Richard Lloyd, the director of Landmine Action, said yesterday: "Rather than
adopt a clear obligation to clear up the mess, the UK [delegation] is
suggesting it should 'cooperate' in addressing the problems that unexploded
munitions cause.

"We are disappointed the UK are failing to take a lead in this issue.
Britain is quite isolated from other European countries over it. [The UK
wording] would not make the difference to stop people being blown up after

"The British position in Geneva is contrary to the impression left by
ministers in parliament that that they would work positively to achieve an
effective, legally binding protocol. They have been arguing instead for a
weaker language in certain key articles."

The US, Mr Lloyd said, had been even more resistant to calls for a legal
duty. "The biggest problem is the United States," Mr Lloyd said.

"We hope they will change their view, but at present they want a voluntary
declaration [of intent to remove cluster bombs] rather than having a duty
imposed on them.

"The negotiations are by consensus, so it looks likely there will be an
agreement at the end of the week to adjourn for further talks in November."

The Ottawa Treaty on landmines already requires states which plant mines to
remove them after a conflict.

As well as unexploded cluster bombs, the new protocol would also cover hand
grenades and other explosive devices.

Landmine Action is one of the main groups campaigning on the issue, and has
estimated that US and UK forces used around 300,000 cluster bomb
sub-munitions, or "bomblets", on Iraq in the war earlier this year. A
significant number failed to explode.

Cluster bombs are usually used against troop concentrations. British
aircraft dropped 66 cluster bombs, each containing 147 bomblets, and fired
2,000 artillery shells which each contained 49 bomblets. US forces dropped
around 1,200 cluster bombs.

UN agencies have estimated that hundreds of Iraqi children have been killed
or injured since the end of the fighting from picking up unexploded shells
and bomblets.

Landmine Action is launching a report today on the international extent of
the problem. It says at least 92 countries are threatened by unexploded
cluster bombs or other explosive remnants of war. In 57 of these countries,
new casualties from the leftovers of conflict were reported in the period
January 2001-June 2002.

The Foreign Office said last night that the UK fully supported the new
protocol and was working for a formulation that would contain both
legally-binding measures and "best practice" guidelines.

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