SP welcomes near-total ban on cluster munition

29 May 2008

SP welcomes near-total ban on cluster munition

SP Member of Parliament and defence spokeswoman Krista van Velzen is “very enthusiastic” over the unexpected turn taken by negotiations, currently taking place in Dublin, on a new treaty governing the use of cluster bombs. Van Velzen, present as an observer at the diplomatic conference where the negotiations are proceeding, says that “many delegations wanted to make the proposed treaty even stronger, although the Netherlands wanted to weaken it somewhat. But after a week and a half of negotiations there was a breakthrough, a sudden realisation that without compromises there would be no treaty at all. Every participating country has now voted for a near-total ban on cluster bombs.”

The agreement will mean that there will at last be an end to the deployment of this inhuman weapon, one which has cost innumerable civilian lives during the past forty years. A real cause for celebration, says Van Velzen: “I'm delighted with the Dutch government's compliant attitude. They went into the negotiations hoping to be able to maintain one of two kinds of Dutch cluster munition, but the result is that both types must be destroyed. The Netherlands will become a cluster bomb-free land. I am now hoping that Parliament will ratify the Treaty.”

The SP has long campaigned for a ban on cluster bombs, not only by bringing forward proposals in Parliament, but also by conducting campaigns against banks which invest in this weaponry. Dozens of bank branches were visited by SP demonstrators who drew customers' attention to the fact that their banks were putting their money into cluster munitions. The campaign led to a radical change of policy by at least one major bank, ABN Amro. .

“I've asked successive governments to follow the example set by ABN,” Van Velzen says, “but without results – until now. Now it looks once again as if persistence pays. What is happening here in Dublin is truly historic.”

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