Australian Legislation on cluster bombs

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Australia is about to pass legislation in order to ratify the Convention on Cluster Munitions, and there are several concerns that the proposed text does not reflect the spirit of the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

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Our overriding concern is that the proposed legislation demonstrates a weak interpretation of the Convention. As such it is not consistent with the spirit of the Convention which strives “to unequivocally, and for all time, end the suffering caused by cluster munitions.”
Interoperability and article 21

* Interoperability because the proposed legislation may allow Australian forces to assist with activities that are prohibited by the Convention. The spirit of article 21 in the Convention on Cluster Muntions was to protect troops of signatory countries from prosecution for actions by other nations not party to the conventions. It was never intended to allow either limited or unlimited collaboration with non-signatory parties.


* Jurisdiction because the proposed legislation allows foreign forces to use Australian territory to stockpile and transit cluster bombs. This is clearly facilitating the use of cluster bombs.


* Retention because the proposed legislation allows Australia to retain cluster bombs without specifying any reporting obligations and setting a minimum number.

No mention of positive obligations

* Positive Obligations because the proposed legislation does not mention any of the positive obligations to assist in clearance, victim assistance and to universalise the treaty.

No prohibition on investment in cluster bombs

* The proposed legislation does not prohibit investments in cluster bombs.