Dec 17, 2007
An international conference held to outlaw cluster bombs recently ended in Vienna. These explosives, which are launched from airplanes or helicopters, break up into clusters of small bomblets that explode in the air, releasing thousands of lethal projectiles. But up to 30% of these cluster bomblets do not explode, in effect becoming little land mines, scattered over wide areas. Not only do these unexploded bomblets remain active, sometimes for decades, ready to explode with the tiniest disturbance. They are also designed to appear like nothing dangerous. Often children, attracted by their bright colors, pick them up to play, only to have them explode in their hands, killing or injuring everyone around..
During three days, representatives from some 38 governments blah, blah, blahed, only to agree on a treaty that would outlaw the use of such weapons – sometime in the vague, far-off future. And the United States, where many of these weapons are produced, didn’t even bother to send a representative to attend the conference.
The countries that were present, voted for the project, hoping for “a treaty that is not too constraining” for their own weapons manufacturers. Some want exemptions; others want a period of transition; still others want special treatment. The French government, for example, claims that the type of cluster bombs made in France are more moral than those from other countries, because they include a system of self-destruction. Of course, humanitarian organizations denounce these self-destructive mechanisms as being completely ineffective. On the other hand, all of the countries present were in agreement to, “make the effort to assist victims, to provide compensation” and supposedly “to educate potential victims”.
The major powers, who disperse these bombs by the millions over conflict zones, dare to present themselves as the protectors of civilian populations who live under constant threat for many long years after the military conflicts have ended. In fact, the big powers only add a very grievous insult to the vast amount of injuries and deaths they have caused.