SP proposes law to ban cluster bombs

1 April 2007

SP proposes law to ban cluster bombs

SP Member of Parliament Krista van Velzen will tomorrow, in the name of the SP, propose a new anti-cluster-bomb law. The law would ban the use, possession, transport and production of any form of cluster-bomb type munition. Cluster bombs are extremely controversial because they cause so many civilian casualties, including during the period after an armed conflict has ended. “In effect they're like land-mines,” explains Ms Van Velzen. “We've already banned those and it's time we banned cluster bombs too.”

The 'mother-bomb' explodes in the air and distributes a large quantity of smaller bombs over a wide area. A great deal of this munition does not explode immediately, and for anyone living in the area this presents the same danger as would land mines. According to estimates from Handicap International there have been, worldwide, 100.000 civilian victims of these weapons, many of them children and many of them small farmers.

Krista van Velzen“Cluster bombs have caused great human suffering in Kosovo, Chechenya, Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon,” Van Velzen said. “We should not be using weapons which don't distinguish between civilians and military personnel and which in addition continue to create victims after a conflict ends.”

Research shows that the cluster bombs used in Kosovo by, amongst others, the Dutch armed forces, had strategically little impact. Only 75 of 269 attacks caused any significant damage to mobile targets such as tanks. Yet cluster-bomb 'accidents' involving civilians are fatal far more often than is the case with landmines, which were banned some time ago under the Ottawa Convention, a treaty ratified by the Netherlands.

Recently in Oslo a total of forty-six countries signed an agreement to work towards an international ban on cluster weapons. In order to step up the pressure the signatories promised to 'consider' whether they could also take measures at national level. A national ban such as that proposed by the SP would be in keeping with this. The Dutch government is, however, not prepared to destroy its own stocks of cluster weapons and introduce a ban. Van Velzen hopes to win a majority for her proposal so that Parliament can correct this.

You are here