SP Member of Parliament goes to Peru to present case for ban on cluster bombs

17 May 2007

SP Member of Parliament goes to Peru to present case for ban on cluster bombs

SP Member of Parliament Krista van Velzen will form part of an official delegation from the Netherlands which will participate in an international conference on clusterbombs to take place next week in Peru. The aim of the gathering is to help bring closer an international ban on these weapons. In addition to Van Velzen, the delegation will include representatives of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defence. “It’s high time that the Netherlands took steps itself and announced that our armed forces would no longer use this sort of munition,” Van Velzen says.

Clusterbombs divide into a large number of much smaller bombs before they hit the ground, and these are distributed over a large area. Some of these small bombs do not explode immediately and remain in place acting as a kind of land mine. It was estimated in a recent report from Handicap International that 98% of all victims of clusterbombs are civilians. The use of more than 360 million of these small bombs world-wide has created more than 100.000 civilian victims.

The Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store took the initiative to ban these weapons, at the same time calling for an international ban, since which forty-six countries have followed suit. Yet the Dutch government and a majority of MPs have to date thrown out every proposal to destroy our own stock of cluster bombs and put a moratorium on Krista van Velzentheir use. Van Velzen has for many years demanded such a measure, recently presenting a bill to that effect. “This is the only option for this type of weapon,” she says. “That only a few countries continue to use them should be a sign that it is certainly possible for our armed forces to function without them.”

Van Velzen will be at the Lima Conference on Cluster Munitions which will run from 23rd to 25th May in the Peruvian capital, using the occasion to try to strengthen the international network working towards a ban. She will also attempt to persuade the Netherlands delegation to take a clear position in favour of a national and international ban.

“It’s ten years since the Treaty of Ottawa instituted a ban on landmines and it’s high time that the clusterbomb, which in fact differ little from these weapons, was also banned,” she says “Such a move would prevent a great deal of suffering among civilians.”

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