Hailed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as “a major advance for the global disarmament and humanitarian agendas,” the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) entered into force Aug. 1.
Cluster munitions are weapons that disperse smaller submunitions, sometimes a few and sometimes hundreds, that are supposed to explode on impact. However, these submunitions often fail to detonate promptly; if they explode later, they can injure civilians and combatants. The treaty is the result of the so-called
The convention has been signed by 108 countries and ratified by 39. (See ACT, March 2010.) Since the countdown to entry into force, which began with the 30th country submitting its instrument of ratification Feb. 16, nine new countries have ratified the convention:
Instead of the new convention, the
In 2008, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced that, after 2018,
Under that treaty, countries are banned from using cluster munitions, except for certain cluster-like weapons that contain fewer than 10 submunitions, each of which weighs more than four but less than 20 kilograms, is designed to detect and engage single targets, has an electronic self-destruct mechanism, and can electronically self-deactivate. (See ACT, December 2008.)
Under Article 1 of the CCM, parties agree not to use cluster munitions nor “develop, produce, otherwise acquire, stockpile, retain or transfer [them] to anyone, directly or indirectly.” States are required to destroy their existing stockpiles of cluster munitions within eight years of entry into force or if incapable of doing so, seek an extension of up to four years to complete the destruction.
States are allowed to retain “a limited number of cluster munitions and explosive submunitions for the development of and training in cluster munition and explosive submunition detection, clearance or destruction techniques, or for the development of cluster munition counter-measures.” The treaty does not provide absolute limits on the number of munitions and submunitions a country can retain.
Divestment Efforts Continue
A global effort is underway to divest from companies that produce cluster munitions and to stop financial institutions from supporting them.
Individual companies and civil society also have been involved in divestment efforts. The three largest Japanese banks announced July 30 that they would no longer finance cluster munitions projects but that the ban would not extend to the companies themselves as they could make products other than cluster munitions. On Aug. 11, Deutsche Welle reported that the German government was under pressure after buying body scanners for the
In an April report, “Worldwide Investments in Cluster Munitions: A Shared Responsibility,” authors from nongovernmental organizations IKV PAX Christi of the Netherlands and Netwerk Vlaanderen of Belgium found a “double standard” whereby CCM parties can neither produce nor assist in producing cluster munitions but investment in cluster munitions has continued from their financial institutions.
The report, which updates the version that came out last October, considers the seven largest producers of cluster munitions and their ability to secure loans and other financing. It concludes that since May 1, 2007, 146 financial institutions have invested a total of $43 billion in the companies. Despite the divestment effort, the producing companies have not been “hampered in [their] search for financial means.” (See ACT, December 2009.)
Of the top five institutions that provide investment banking services or loans to cluster munitions producers, three are