All posts by Mette Eliseussen

Australian Legislation on cluster bombs

CMC Australia logo
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.

Visit www.cmcaustralia.org to get more information about our work.

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

* 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

* 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.

Letter to Georgia

President Mikhail Saakashvili
7 Ingorokva Street
Tbilisi 0105
Georgia

Fax: +995-32-98-72-62

3 September 2008

Dear President Saakashvili,

We are writing to express our grave concern about Georgia’s use of cluster munitions.

In a letter to Human Rights Watch, the Georgian Ministry of Defence confirmed its use of M85 cluster submunitions, delivered by a GRADLAR multiple launch rocket system, and noted that cluster munitions ‘were never used against civilians, civilian targets, and civilian populated or nearby areas’. Over 100 nations have agreed to ban cluster munitions because they kill and injure civilians both during strikes and afterward. As many cluster munitions fail to explode on impact, they also pose a lethal risk to civilians long after a conflict ends.

Georgia used the M85 cluster submunition, which was also used in Lebanon two years ago, where it was found to have at least a 10% failure rate. Over 200 civilians have been killed or injured by cluster munitions in Lebanon and, despite dedicated clearance work, civilians are still at risk from cluster munitions two years after the conflict ended. We urge the government of Georgia to take immediate steps to prevent civilian casualties by carrying out risk education among the local populations and aiding with clearance work.

We call on the Georgian government to immediately renounce cluster munitions and join the Convention on Cluster Munitions when it opens for signature in Oslo, Norway on 3 December 2008.

This agreement adopted on 30 May 2008 by 107 nations prohibits clusters munitions, provides groundbreaking assistance to survivors and affected communities and requires destruction of existing stocks within a strict timeframe. The adoption of this international treaty acknowledges the widespread damage and devastation cluster munitions cause to civilians and communities and the urgent need to address this. The majority of the world’s nations, including most past users and current stockpilers, are expected to sign the Convention. Georgia’s signature would give a clear signal that it is committed to protecting civilians from the effects of armed conflict and that the Convention on Cluster Munitions is an important instrument to achieve this.

We welcome a response from the government of Georgia outlining steps being taken to prevent casualties and indicating its intention to sign the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Yours sincerely,

Ban Bus activity kit

The Ban Bus is prepared to run a number of different activities in each location depending on what local partners and campaigners want and are able to assist organizing. When choosing activities in each target location the Ban Bus aims to organize activities that will generate national media, engage the public and inspire the influential. In each location the Ban Bus needs a local focal point person or persons who can assist in identifying what activities that are most efficient, to assist with general logistics such as organizing venues, accommodation, press contacts and translation.
To get people to come to the events it is important to get the word out about the event is being organizing. This could be done through a diversity of tactics, such as word of mouth, email lists, advertising in national and local media and websites as well as radio stations and displaying posters. The Ban Bus together with local campaigners will make sure the cluster bombs events are added to relevant calendars of events in the district, and will visit other events and hand out invitations to the Cluster Munitions event that is being organized. When possible The Ban Bus will involve local businesses and organizations, telling them how the events are relevant to their business and encourage the business to promote the event on their website and other media. We urge everybody to remember to call ALL friends and family, inviting them and asking them to promote the events.
Find out about and contact other events and festivals that will happen in each country and request a Ban Cluster Bomb presence.

The Ban Bus will try to conduct fundraising activities on the tour to pay for part of the expenses and for consolidation of campaign building.

To connect and build an international campaign network the Ban Bus will make a face book “Who is Who on the Ban Bus Tour and all events across Europe” booklet with photos and contact information. This will grow as the regional contacts increase.

Reception dinner

Core group embassies or relevant other entities will be asked to host reception dinners and meetings. These events should include speakers from the Ban Bus as well as key speakers from the country. When feasible CMC staff or steering committee members will also attend. We request that other guests include political influential people, civil society, politicians, government officials, military personnel, NATO personnel, other embassies, national and international parliamentarians, faith leaders if appropriate, media, and others that could become possible future campaigners. Such an event can be the start of a strong local campaign.

Public Debate

A debate can be run either in a public space or on any media. Invite representatives from the Government, the Military to try and defend their reasons to be against a ban.

Stockpile destruction

Key countries that will join the Oslo treaty will be asked to start their stockpile destruction prior to Oslo when the Ban Bus visits. This is a strong visual symbol of joining the Oslo process and an event that could attract international media. Possible locations are Bulgaria, Serbia, Austria, and Sweden. (probably not really Sweden!). This activity needs to be organized in cooperation with the CMC, military and foreign affairs of the relevant country. Ban Bus is also interested in organizing just to film stockpiles.

Press conference/stunt and demonstrations

Non-violent demonstrations to raise awareness about cluster munitions issues can attract both media attention as well as local people’s attention. This could be a performance, rally, march or a ‘Lie down” in connection with stockpiles, cluster munitions production facilities, etc. Use banners, music, and costume to achieve high visibility. Ban Bus provides stickers, flyers and other promotional material that can be handed out. In addition there should be handouts that explain the event and invitations to debates or alike to by-passers. There are several tactics that you can use during the march or event to engage by-passers such as having campaigners assigned to be engaging people to join and others to act as mentors that can look after newcomers. Always remember to bring enough handouts and have this easily available through out the event.
A walk/march in favour of a ban of cluster bombs is good to arrange if one can expect local participants, as it gives time for Ban Bus participants to speak and discuss with individuals in detail about the problem.

Kids Questions!

“Kids Questions!” is a program where teenagers are invited to interview politicians or other influential people of their choice on a cluster bomb issue. The key contact person on each location needs to be in charge of the invitation to teens in schools, organizations and clubs. Interested teens should submit 6 questions for approval and final selection, to prove that they have an in-depth understanding and interest in the topic. The selected teenagers should research their subject and refine their questions with assistance from their school as well as from the CMC or the Ban Bus. The contact person in each country should facilitate and organize contact with the person that the teen wants to interview and is also in charge of organizing an appropriate venue for recording. The interview by the student should take approximately 20 minutes, including questions from the audience. Ban Bus and other media should record the event. The interview should preferably be screened on national media and also be posted on the Internet. We believe “Kids Questions!” will not only address important issues concerning cluster bombs within the country but also lead to empowering teenagers.
There are many ways to sell this to schools and its teachers. It represents a way to introduce student to media as a subject as well as political science and language.

Web challenge

The Ban Bus challenges students and others to take the Web Challenge, a ten questions quiz that gives an introduction to cluster bombs and the Oslo Process. This challenge works well in schools for students of 15 or older. There are clues to find the answer for each question. To access schools, it might be necessary to get permission from the education department, work through teachers association or alike. It is of utmost importance to get teachers onboard, selling point for teachers are that it is easy for teachers as we provide the questions, clues and a DVD package from CMC. It introduces the children to a current important political process that involves state and non-state actors as well as civil society, and it shows how children themselves can participate.
The challenge is to be found on www.thebanbus.org and on the Ban Bus flyer.

Kids art challenge

Invite kids to enter drawings and paintings about cluster bombs that they can hand in when Ban Bus arrives. Supply paper and drawing material if needed. This gives your campaign some good material to use in future events, exhibitions and campaign material.

Parliamentarians

The Ban Bus would like to facilitate “Parliamentary Friends of the Cluster Munitions Coalition” expanding its membership by inviting MPs that are already members to come along to some of the venues in order to promote MPs to join the coalition. Portia Stratton from Landmine Action is the contact person within CMC, and Lord Alfred Dubs is the chair. Find out if parliamentarians in your country could be interested in meeting and discussing cluster bombs with fellow MPs from other countries when the Ban Bus arrives.

Concerts with a conscience

Concerts with a conscience can be used to attract people to the issue of cluster bombs. David Rovics from USA is touring Europe this fall and might be able to perform in your country. He specializes in songs of social significance and even has one song about cluster bombs. You might have national bands that you want to use instead; it can be rock, pop, folksong or classic. To organize this you need to pick and book an appropriate venue for the band and the expected audience,
Combine the concert with other Ban Bus campaign activities.

Survivors

The Ban Bus is in contact with Ban Advocates – cluster bomb survivors. The plan is that survivors will fly in and meet up with Ban Bus to participate at events in key locations.

Peoples treaty

The Ban Bus will set up the signatory of the People’s treaty wherever we go. The growing number of signatures will be delivered to Oslo.

Auction

John Rodsted is an experienced auctioneer having raised an excess of a million US dollars in the last five years for environmental projects and Save the Albatross Campaign. The auction is a fun event where the aim is to let rich people learn about cluster bombs as well as contribute to the cause. This strength could be used if there is an audience of between 50-100 in the host country who can enjoy and afford such an event.
To run an auction the Ban Bus needs items that can be auctioned donated. This can be something valuable or something that is cheap but funny and relevant to cluster bombs. Examples of possible auction items are art, retired demining equipment, shrapnel from an explosion, remnants from the stockpile destruction, etc.

Film screening

Contact venues to screen the film “Unacceptable harm”.

Exhibition

The Ban Bus is producing an exhibition that can be exhibited indoor or outside. There will be 20+ photos of 80×60 cm providing a global view on the problem and solution of cluster bombs from use, survivors, clearance and social impact. Captions and essays will accompany the photos. This all needs to be translated into the local language in your country.

Clearance demonstration

The Ban Bus carries the material needed for presenting a close to real life cluster bomb clearance. Ban Bus will demonstrate how clearance is conducted. This is a practical demonstration that provides good photo opportunities for press and media.

Information distribution

The Ban Bus will distribute stickers, flyers, and other promotional material such as t-shirts.

Blog

The Ban Bus will produce a video and written blog to document the activities and the trip. This will be posted on the www.thebanbus.org. The video blog will include interviews of locals about their opinions on cluster bombs and the Ban Treaty. This will be uploaded to You Tube regularly. Ban Bus will also develop a presence on other Internet communities to advocate for a ban on cluster bombs.

The Bus

The bus will be decorated with magnetic signage. Some of the magnet’s will be applicable in all places, some key messages (“Ban cluster bombs!” Sign the Ban Convention in Oslo!” “If you don’t have them – you can’t use them”) will have to be changed depending on local language.

Consolidation- Campaigning Survivor Pack

From previous experience the Ban Bus expects to inspire people across Europe to engage in the Cluster Munitions Campaign. It becomes essential to consolidate this effort and create foundations for strong national campaigns. The Ban Bus will make a “Who is who” face book to provide concerned citizens with a tool to network with. This booklet will be made available online. The Ban Bus will also hand out a DVD with campaign essentials to people who might be interested in working on banning cluster bombs. For the network of people that is identified, CMC and the Ban Bus will arrange creative workshops starting 2009. These workshops will build a foundation for a future campaign effort in different locations, inspiring as well as educating volunteers on campaign topics such as fundraising, event management and the cluster bomb challenge. Each workshop will produce a local strategy paper and result in a formal start of the actual campaign. Key partners such as representatives from core group embassies and International organizations in the actual country will be invited and urged to participate in the workshop. Each workshop will have between 8 and 12 participants.

Ban Bus Europa – Balkans to Oslo

europa route.indd, originally uploaded by banbus.

This route might be updated, please check here for last version!

Ban Bus will embark on a 10 000 kilometres long journey from October until December 2008 through states in east and west Europe to build support for a total ban of cluster bombs. Ban Bus operates in close connection with Cluster Munition Coallition (CMC).

The Ban Bus is a rolling public awareness platform and media opportunity. It’s a portable event that is self contained and brings expert speakers and exhibitions to any community wishing to learn about the issue of cluster bombs. This presentation in its self is a strong advocacy tool and media event. It’s a platform to impart the information about the problem of cluster bombs and the need for a total ban. It works by hitting a community hard and fast then moving on. It’s fast, exciting and challenging.

Route

Last day in each location should be allocated for travelling to the next location. Travel time for the Ban Bus should include time for filming, photographing and documenting the journey, therefore allow more time than direct driving. This timetable allows enough time to allocate events in each location given the restricted timeframe we are operating under.

Belgrade 1–5.10

Sarajevo 6–8.10

Pristina 9–11.10

Skopje 12–13.10

Athens 14–16.10

Istanbul 17–20.10

Bucharest 21–24.10

Sofia 25–28.10

Travel day 29.10

Zagreb 30–31.10

Venice 1–2.11

Geneva 3–7.11

Prague 8–11.11

Warsaw 12–15.11

Vilnius 16–18.11

Riga 19–21.11

Tallinn 22–25.11

Helsinki 26–28.11

Stockholm 29.11–1.12

Oslo 2.12

Letter to Russia

Ambassador
Russian Embassy and Consulate
Drammensveien 74, 0244 Oslo

We are writing to express our grave concern about the Russian Federation’s use of cluster munitions in Georgia in the towns of Ruisi and Gori, killing 11 civilians and injuring many more.

We call on the Russian government immediately to stop using cluster munitions and to provide all possible assistance to facilitate risk education and clearance work in order to prevent more civilian casualties. As Russia recognised in a statement on 6 June 2008, cluster munitions are particularly dangerous to civilians when used in populated areas, as they have been in Georgia. As many cluster bombs fail to explode on impact they also pose a lethal risk to civilians long after a conflict ends. Without appropriate awareness of the risk posed by unexploded submunitions the number of cluster munition casualties in Georgia is likely to rise.

Russia recently ratified Protocol V of the Convention on Convention Weapons which obliges Russia to provide data on use of all explosive ordnance. Article 4.2 of Protocol V states that “High Contracting Parties and parties to an armed conflict which have used or abandoned explosive ordnance which may have become explosive remnants of war shall, without delay after the cessation of active hostilities and as far as practicable, subject to these parties’ legitimate security, make available such information to the party or parties in control of the affected area…”.

Just three months ago 107 nations agreed to an international treaty that bans clusters munitions and provides for assistance to survivors and affected communities, recognising the widespread damage and devastation cluster munitions cause to civilians and communities and urgent need to address this. The majority of the world’s nations, including most past users and current stockpilers will sign the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) when it opens for signature on 3 December 2008. Russia’s use of cluster bombs is out of step with the efforts of the international community to protect civilians from the effects of these indiscriminate weapons.

Russia has condemned the use of cluster munitions by other nations, noting the particular danger of using them in populated areas. Russia has also highlighted its own work to clear cluster munitions in Serbia. Russian use of cluster munitions in populated areas in Georgia is clearly contradictory to those statements.

While some Russian officials have denied any use of cluster munitions, researchers from Human Rights Watch have gathered conclusive photographic evidence in addition to testimonies from numerous victims, doctors and military personnel. We expect that further evidence of cluster munition use will emerge in the coming days. Unfortunately we expect that this evidence will be accompanied by further deaths and injuries from these weapons.

We ask that the Russian Federation commit immediately to no further use of cluster munitions and take urgent action to lessen the danger to civilians from submunition duds from earlier strikes.

Sincerely,
Mette Eliseussen
Ban Bus

Mini-Ban bus in Tasmania, Australia

Photographer John Rodsted organized an eleven-day speaking tour through Canberra and Tasmania in October. The tour included public meetings, school visits and meetings with NGOs, where Rodsted spoke about the impact of landmines and unexploded ordnance in Afghanistan and his recent work there. The ICBL – Australia Network held its Annual General Meeting and National Meetings in November in Adelaide. In December, “Life After Injury,” a rehabilitation manual for mine survivors and their families written by Liz Hobbs, Sue McDonough & Ann O’Callaghan, was released in Adelaide. In November, “Songlines Against Landmines,” a backyard concert organized by the Canberra Band “The View From Here,” raised funds to purchase a metal detector.

Also in November, the proprietors of the “Tin Cat Cafe” in suburban Kent Town in Adelaide, with the support of their clients, local business people and Network supporters, arranged a special function to benefit the Campaign. With the help of a well-run and highly successful charity auction and some very generous donors, $5110 was raised for the Campaign. For more information please contact: ppakpoy@chariot.net.au orhinton@senet.com.au

The film “Bombies” was shown on 5 October in Hobart, Tasmania as part of a fundraiser for the Mines Victims and Clearance (MIVAC) Trust. The event included an introduction by Tony Foster, Mayor of the City of Brighton and was followed by a panel discussion on MIVAC’s work. For more information contact: ahorsler@southcom.com.au “Keeping the Peace: Stories of Australian Peacekeepers,” a traveling art exhibition, opened 27 October in Port Pirrie. The exhibition examines Australia’s participation in global peacekeeping over the last 54 years. Contact: travelling.exhibitions@awm.gov.au The ICBL Australian Network held an event during Austcare’s Refugee Week from 5-13 October.