Today Aug. 1 is being celebrated here in Vientiane with banners and a parade as the effective start of the Convention on banning Cluster Munitions. The first international convention is to be held in Vientiane this November. Many countries have ratified the convention but several major producers of cluster munitions, including the US, Russia, China, India, Pakistan and Brazil, have not signed the Convention. Does anyone know the names of the companies that still produce them?
#1 LaoNow has been a member since 14/5/2010. Posts: 38
The arguement against cluster munitions is that up to 20% of the individual bomblets fail to detonate, and are thus an eventual UXO hazard for any civilian populations moving back into the area post conflict. However, what the opponents of cluster munitions fail to recognize (principally because military effectiveness is something that would prefer to reduce rather than enhance) is that the only other munition that is similarly effective in the anti-personnel role is Napalm, a munition that was strongly oppossed two generations ago and is now no lnoger in use. Political leaders have a resonsibility to their uniformed personnel to give them the tools to do the jobs they want them to do. There are limited tools available for aircraft to engage dug-in infantry. Unless a replacement tool is found, you will continue to see this push back. It is the same with land mines. There is nothing wrong with the land mine as a weapon of war when properly employed. Mine fields are marked, set in patterns, and easily removed. It's when insurgents are using mines in a random manner, setting booby traps, not marking fields, not mapping them - that is when they take a significant toll on civilian personnel. There are many reasons why warfare by non-uniformed combatants is a violation of the Geneva convention, and this is but one of them.
I'm glad Laos is celebrating the adoptation of this very important convention. Cluster munitions kill and maim many in Laos yearly and deny the use of important agricultural lands.
But of course things aren't always so simple.
Cluster munitions are only usefull to countries large enough to have an air force. Why am I cynical over the Lao PDR's motives?
More telling is that the Lao PDR has never signed on to the much more inclusive ban on land mines (and cluster munitions), neither have Vietnam or Burma. Laos and Burma are two of very few countries in the world today actively using land mines against their civilian populations. Vietnam has a large stockpile and it's thought that is where the Lao government gets it's mines.
Unlike cluster munitions, land mines are set to explode under very little pressure, the sowing of these mines to deny movement and foraging for food by civilians in the Xaysombone Restricted Zone in the Lao PDR will have long lasting repercusions post conflct. I would celebrate along with the Lao Government if they would simply stop planting these mines to kill civilians and sign on the much more comprehensive Land Mine (which includes cluster munitions) Treaty.
Lately at the UN, Laos has been indicating it would sign on, but as of yet I can find no place that says they have.