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Cluster Munition Treaty and Canada


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Cluster Bomb Hypocrisy by Canada
May 23rd, 2008
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Dublin, Ireland — At the current 12-day conference to negotiate an international treaty banning cluster munitions, diplomats and observers alike are wondering what has happened to Canada’s independence.

The same country that launched the “Ottawa process” resulting in the historic 1997 Mine Ban Treaty now appears to be doing dirty work for the United States to weaken the cluster munitions treaty.

As with land mines, the United States is no friend of the effort to ban cluster munitions launched in February, 2007, in Oslo. But it was openly and actively involved in the Ottawa process until walking out of treaty negotiations on the last day, unable to force acceptance of a “negotiating package” that would have gutted that treaty. This time around, Washington is opting for intense, relentless pressure behind the scenes.

One U.S. official bragged that more than 110 countries had been “spoken to” about this treaty. It has flat-out told allies that it will not alter its military doctrine, structure or deployments to accommodate terms of the treaty. Further, the United States has threatened that it will not remove its cluster munitions stockpiled in countries that do join the treaty — even though it removed land mines stockpiled in countries that are part of the Mine Ban Treaty.

It is not surprising that Washington continues to throw its considerable weight around. What is surprising, however, is that some countries are willing to carry water for the United States, despite its vow never to sign the treaty. Even more surprising is that one of those countries is Canada.

As Tim Shipman reported this week in the Sydney Morning Herald, “U.S. officials are frantically warning their allies not to sign the treaty as it now stands, because it would undermine NATO and criminalize soldiers who fight alongside them. … An official from the U.S. State Department warned that under the treaty, British front line troops who call in artillery support or air strikes [in Afghanistan or Iraq] from an American war plane, all of which carry cluster munitions, could be hauled into court.” Mr. Shipman could just as easily have used the case of Canadian soldiers fighting alongside Americans in Afghanistan.

In military jargon, this U.S. exaggeration could be called “firing for effect” — see if you can frighten others into doing what you want. It is also misrepresenting the facts.

The proposed cluster ban treaty would prohibit any signatory country from assisting a non-signatory country in its use of banned cluster munitions. But such a treaty will not mean the end of joint military operations nor make Canadian soldiers automatically liable in the event the United States were to deploy such weapons. Joint military operations with Canada continue right now despite the fact that the U.S. is not party to the Mine Ban Treaty. No Canadian soldier has been hauled into court. At least seven other international treaties — many of which Washington is party to — have similar obligations on prohibiting assistance in use of a banned weapon by a country bound by the treaty. But in response to the intense pressure of the outgoing Bush administration, Canada has developed a “bottom line” on joint military operations to join the future treaty.

It says there must be language to protect Canadian military from liabilities should they be involved in joint military operations with allies outside the treaty who do use cluster munitions — in other words, the United States. Proposed Canadian language would not only seriously weaken the provision prohibiting governments from “assisting, inducing, or encouraging” states outside the treaty with any prohibited act that, but it would also create a loophole big enough for a U.S. attack helicopter loaded with cluster bombs to fly through. It would permit solders of countries that are part of the treaty to participate in the planning and execution of joint operations with the United States where cluster munitions are used.
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These treaties have merit but it would be a hard sell for Canada if we had invested as much money as I expect the Yanks (and any other huge military) did building these weapons.  You ban them and it creates billions $$$ spent on effectively waste disposal. 

I hate deffending US policy and wishes but there must be allot of relatively small countries signing on this treaty with comparably much smaller stocks of Cluster Bombs.

I was involved in a large computer simulated Ex in the late 90's and we deployed these to counter the fictional Warsaw pact weapons and tactics.  They worked very well.

I wouldn't want one dropped in my back yard but I can see why this is a hard sell.

I dont think it would be fair for Non-American's to be held liable for US Artillery/Air support's use of Cluster munitions. I don't know for sure, but i'm guessing that when they call for support, they aren't exactly sure what kind of munitions are going to be used, they only know where they are going to be used.
adaminc said:
I don't know for sure, but i'm guessing that when they call for support, they aren't exactly sure what kind of munitions are going to be used, they only know where they are going to be used.

You best be sure that the FOO/FAC/JTAC/THING knows what type of munition is going to be used.........

As a non-expert I am reasonably sure that the guy with "eyes on" the target is the guy that decides if he, or she in the case of Capt Nicola Goddard, is the one that decides if they want smoke or HE on the target, one round or five, PGM or any other weapon available in the arsenal.

As Cdnaviator suggests, I think it could make for a very messy day if the round delivered was not the round expected.
Are they focusing just on dispersed munitions, or all forms of 'cluster bomb' use?

Cluster Munitions Policy Released

            Today the Department of Defense released a newly approved U.S. cluster munitions policy. The United States believes that the new policy will provide better protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure following a conflict, while allowing for the retention of a legitimate and useful weapon.

            Recognizing the need to minimize the unintended harm to civilians and civilian infrastructure associated with unexploded ordnance from cluster munitions, the secretary of defense has approved a new policy on cluster munitions intended to reduce the collateral effects resulting from the use of cluster munitions in pursuit of legitimate military objectives.  The new policy is the result of a year-long Department of Defense review of cluster munitions.

            Cluster munitions are legitimate weapons with clear military utility in combat. They provide distinct advantages against a range of targets, where their use reduces risks to U.S. forces and can save U.S. lives. These weapons can also reduce unintended harm to civilians during combat, by producing less collateral damage to civilians and civilian infrastructure than unitary weapons. Because future adversaries will likely use civilian shields for military targets – for example by locating a military target on the roof of an occupied building – use of unitary weapons could result in more civilian casualties and damage than cluster munitions. Blanket elimination of cluster munitions is therefore unacceptable due not only to negative military consequences but also due to potential negative consequences for civilians.

            Post-combat, the impact of cluster munitions is limited in scope, scale and duration compared to other explosive remnants of war (ERW).  According to the Feb. 15, 2008, State Department white paper (“Putting the Impact of Cluster Munitions in Context with the Effects of All Explosive Remnants of War”), in 2006 fewer than 400 casualties were attributable to cluster munitions out of a global total of 5,759 reported for all ERW.

            A key facet of the DoD policy establishes a new U.S. technical norm for cluster munitions, requiring that by the end of 2018, DoD will no longer use cluster munitions which, after arming, result in more than one percent unexploded ordnance across the range of intended operational environments. Additionally, cluster munitions sold or transferred by DoD after 2018 must meet this standard. Any munitions in the current inventory that do not meet this standard will be unavailable for use after 2018. As soon as possible, military departments will initiate removal from active inventory cluster munitions that exceed operational planning requirements or for which there are no operational planning requirements. These excess munitions will be demilitarized as soon as practicable within available funding and industrial capacity. Effective immediately through 2018, any U.S. use of cluster munitions that do not meet the one percent unexploded ordnance standard must be approved by the applicable combatant commander. Previous DoD policy required military departments to design and procure “future” (after 2005) submunitions to a 99 percent reliability rate, but did not address use and removal of current munitions.

            The new policy is viewed as a viable alternative to a complete ban proposal generated by the Oslo Process in Dublin, Ireland, last month. The new policy serves as the basis for the U.S. position in negotiations toward an international agreement at the U.N. Convention of Conventional Weapons (CCW) that began on July 7. The United States has called for the completion of a new cluster munitions protocol by the end of the year. The CCW, unlike the Oslo process, includes all of the nations that produce and use cluster munitions, making any agreement reached there much more practically effective.
We appear to be an intended signatory, based on the 'Wellingotn Declaration' that paved the way for this. The treaty will be signed in December.

Not that this thing has much teeth, given that U.S., China et al. have no interest.
I'm a civy, thinking outloud and out of my league, but would it be possible to have a disposable GPS in each bomblet of cluster ammunition?  If the bomblets don't explode then they could be tracked and cleaned up by EOD? That way cluster ammunition could be deployed but unexploded bomblets could be cleaned up.
GPS doesn't work like that... the satilights broadcast an identifier and the GPS takes bearings off them then calculates it's position on the earths surface and displays it -> the bomblette would know where it is, but we wouldn't.

When bombs are dropped it is recorded, the problem is they can scatter a long way and they can be the size of a baseball so it takes a while for EOD teams to find them if they can.

What you are looking for is an RF Beacon circuit built in, but when you factor in the size of the battery you'd need for it to provide a decent range so it could be found it's not possible.

RFID Tags might work, but I don't think they would because people would still have to comb the area for hours and thats the sort of thing that happens after the heavy conflict when it's time to start rebuilding at which point the tag probably won't still be working due to exposure to the elements.

I don't think there is any way this could be made feasible.
Can you put on an IR tag?  Something that could be seen from an overhead view?   
I don't think it would really matter what type of tag or identifier you put into the munitions. Only the organizations that had the ability to find the tag/identifier would be able to utilize it for clearance purposed. The problem is that generally the clearance process does not begin until long after the fighting has stopped. Cluster munition pose a threat to the civilians who are exposed to these cluster munitions long before EOD can get there. In Kosovo, it was not uncommon to find cluster munitions piled at the side of a road by a farmer who was just trying to clear his field so he could continue to feed his family. Generally these consisted of BL-755 HE bomblets or Mk-118 Bomblet. Depending on the source quoted, reported dud rates for these bomblets is between 3% and 20%. So a Mk 20 Rockeye could generate between 6 and 43 dud submunitions. Unfortunately not all of these backyard clearances went without consequences.

Also some cluster munitions are very small in size. Generally people think of cluster bombs, however the ban includes artillery projectiles. There are numerous types of 155mm projectiles that carry submunitions. The M483A1 HE DPICM carries 88 dual purpose grenades, which are quite small and very difficult to find in tall grass or brush.

For size comparison here is a photo of M42 grenade from 155mm projectile and a Mk 118 bomblet from the Mk 20 Rockeye cluster bomb.

I personally would hate to see the ban on Cluster bombs. I would like to see a system where they would self destruct with in 24-48 hours with a 98% sucess rate if not set off initially. Cluster bombs work well in area suppression, area denial and protecting our own butts in a ground war fighting ground troops and equipment in a traditional setting.

Banning these types of ordanance puts soldiers lives at risk, The emphasis should be on not having to fight the war to begin with. But if the war must be fought, then only the best and most effective equipment must be used. To me Cluster bombs are one of the most effective ways to stop the advancing enemy.

How we deal with unexploded ordanace after the war has to be on top of the agenda.
Their still finding UXOs from WW1 does this mean we ban bombs, ammunition etc. No it means we find better ways to make them more effective so they work the way their suppose to and not sit for years to be found after the war.

Make them better, make them work, make them smart, which is already happened or is happening.
None of this matters.  No Western power will subject itself to punitive measures in violation of yet another treaty.  This is the age of revision, remember?  New directions and new enemies will force a less obliging attitude when it comes to warfare and, relatedly, international law, human rights, population displacement etc.
Hmm don't we still have some in storage somewhere?

Canada joins cluster bomb treaty, U.S. absent
Updated Wed. Dec. 3 2008 11:04 AM ET

CTV.ca News Staff

Canada has signed onto an international treaty to ban cluster bombs, though the U.S. and Russia have declined to join the effort.

Canada became a signatory to the Convention on Cluster Munitions on Wednesday when Jillian Stirk, Canada's ambassador to Norway, signed the document on behalf of Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon.

The convention bans members from using, stockpiling, producing or transferring cluster weapons -- small explosives which are designed to cover a large area in a short period of time and are particularly dangerous to civilians and children, long after periods of conflict.

"This convention is a significant achievement. Over time, it will save the lives of many thousands of people around the world and will help to end the use of a weapon that has devastating effects on civilians," Cannon, who is in Ottawa to deal with the current political crisis, said in a news release.

He said Canada will work closely with other nations in the convention, the United Nations, Red Cross and others to "rid the world of cluster munitions, and as far as possible repair the shattered lives of people who have suffered because of them."

Part of the purpose of the treaty is to shame the U.S. and Russia, along with China and others, into abandoning the weapons.

Norway began the drive and was the first to sign on, followed by Laos and Lebanon, two countries with first-hand experience with the weapons and their effects.

"Banning cluster bombs took too long. Too many people lost arms and legs," said Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg at a news conference.

Some of those nations that have refused to sign-on maintain that cluster weapons have legitimate military uses.

Washington has said that an all-out ban on the weapons would hurt world security and could endanger U.S. military co-operation on humanitarian projects in countries that do sign onto the convention.

Organizers of the campaign hope it will gain momentum in a similar fashion to a 1997 effort to ban landmine use. In total 158 countries have signed onto the pact that originated in Ottawa, though the U.S., Russia and China all abstained.

"Once you get half the world on board, it's hard to ignore a ban," Australian anti-cluster bomb campaigner Daniel Barty told The Associated Press.

"One of the things that really worked well with the land-mine treaty was stigmatization. No one really uses land mines."

More than 100 countries are expected to sign the cluster-bomb convention over Dec. 3 and 4.

The news release from Cannon's office said it is the right thing to do.

"In Canada's view, the Convention on Cluster Munitions strikes an appropriate balance between humanitarian and security considerations. It establishes the highest international humanitarian standards with respect to cluster munitions, while allowing its signatories to continue to engage in combined security operations with allies that have not signed," states the release.

Is it wise to just ban legitimate military tools, and then try to stigmatize those that are wise enough not to?

Cluster bomblets linger and may injure civilians who wander into the battlefield after the fact, but they are living in a war zone.  Surely all types of ordinance have a chance of not detonating and remaining a danger.  The usefulness of the weapon in certain situations is such that saying "We will never use it!" isn't very prudent.
dredwulf said:
............  Surely all types of ordinance have a chance of not detonating and remaining a danger. 

Look at Europe.  Northern France and Belguim are still experiencing the affects of UXOs from WW I and earlier.  The Balkans are still danger zones for mines. 

This, however, is a step towards not perpetuating the problem of UXOs into the future in a minor way.
dredwulf said:
Is it wise to just ban legitimate military tools, and then try to stigmatize those that are wise enough not to?

Cluster bomblets linger and may injure civilians who wander into the battlefield after the fact, but they are living in a war zone.  Surely all types of ordinance have a chance of not detonating and remaining a danger.  The usefulness of the weapon in certain situations is such that saying "We will never use it!" isn't very prudent.

As valuable a tool as cluster bombs are, their UXO rate is pretty high.  I've seen firsthand places in Iraq where cluster bombs were used that had a very high amount of non-detonated ordnance.  If anything, this will cause the companies producing such munitions to be motivated and have their engineers design a munition set that doesn't have as significant a rate of UXO as the current ones do.

However, with some of the world's major cluster bomb manufacturing countries not signing on the treaty (US, Russia, China, etc.) I don't know if this treaty will have much of an effect in the immediate to near term.