Friday, May 30, 2008

The Cluster Bomb Ban Treaty - this was agreed on recently by over 100 nations. Unfortunately, I simply cannot find any information on which of these nations supported the treaty, only the big names that *did not* (oh and Kudos to Britain for signing on!).

Specifically, I wanted to know if Singapore signed up. My current belief is that she did not, we are a strong ally of the US and in the course of trying to find this list of nations, I also found out on a Human Rights Watch page that Singapore possesses and markets some types of cluster munitions as well, though it is unclear exactly which types.

It just bugs me that such information cannot easily be found. I hope we will (or did) sign up to the treaty and destroy our stockpiles just like Britain will be doing. Cluster munitions are just an abomination in its current form (well, ideally, we should consider all weapons an abomination ... but this is the real world, so ...). Official dud rates are something below 1%, but as Dan Rather reported, in practice these are something like 10% or as high as 70%. Even at 1% ... it was reported that the US has 1 billion of these bomblets, that's right ... 1,000,000,000. Take 1% of that and you have 10 million of these that will linger on dangerously after they have been dropped. Reports say that the UN has already cleared 130,000 of these from Southern Lebanon after the Israel-Hezbollah conflict recently.

Finally, a thought. Now we have a ban that half the world is queasy about signing-up to ... perhaps for this other half, we could make sign up to a "responsibility clause". If these countries are so confident about their dud rates, then they should be responsible for them:

1) at the end of war, be forced to pay for cleanup operations in affected locations.
2) be forced to attend trials and litigation proceedings against them in case of post-war damage or injury resulting from such weapons provably attributed to them.
3) be forced to provide "strike details", so cleanup crews know where to go look.
4) be forced to mark these bomblets clearly, large danger symbols. This might be a two-edged sword since children who do not understand may be attracted by such symbols. Nonetheless, it would certainly help bomb disposal units who do not have to hunt through landscape where such bomblets may hide and be camouflaged.

I think these will make nations who believe that cluster bombs are "essential" to their military operations to think and plan carefully before the use of such weapons. This should also provide a way for innocents to seek justice should such weapons be used indiscriminately.

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