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CADU NEWS 25
Uranium Weapons & Armour
CADU Parliamentary Lobby Report
ICBUW Lobby in Geneva
Report From the Oslo Conference on Cluster Munitions
Bans Uranium Weapons & Armour
They were first with land mines,
the first with cluster bombs and now Belgium has become the first country
in the world to ban uranium weapons.
On March the 7th, 2007, the
Belgian Chamber Commission on National Defence voted unanimously in favour
of banning the use of depleted uranium "inert ammunitions and armour
plates on Belgian territory." Although Belgium isnt a user
of DU, it is the home of NATO and regularly has US DU shipments travelling
through its port of Antwerp.
Acknowledging the Precautionary Principle, the deputies agreed that the
manufacture, use, storage, sale, acquisition, supply and transit of these
conventional weapon systems should be prohibited. At the last minute,
the term "weapon" was deleted to make sure that the law proposal
would not cover the US thermonuclear bombs that are stored on the Air
Force base of Kleine Brogel.
On Thursday 22nd March, the bill was adopted by Parliament, again with
a unanimous vote from across the political spectrum; making Belgium the
first country in the world to ban ammunitions and armour that contain
depleted uranium, or any other industrially manufactured uranium.
Because it was suggested that
the government needs time to promote the ban outside Belgium, and because
the Dutch-speaking liberal-democrat party wanted to know if other countries
would be willing to follow the Belgian example, it is now stipulated in
the accepted text that the law will enter into force two years after its
publication in the Belgian Statute Book.
The decision is the culmination
of more than three years hard work, direct action and lobbying by the
Belgian coalition. While many Belgian politicians were extremely supportive
of the process, ICBUW praised Dirk van der Maelen, the leader of the Flemish
Socialists, in particular for his commitment to our cause. Muriel Gerkens
and Marie Nagy of the Greens and Joseph Arens of the Christian Democrats
also played an important part in the process. The work of expert witnesses
such as Dr Keith Baverstock and the support of the military, represented
by EUROMIL, was also crucial.
The vote represents a growing awareness of the issue amongst European
countries, thanks in no small part to the European Parliaments repeated
calls for a moratorium leading to a ban on the use of uranium weapons.
ICBUW is convinced that Belgium will soon be followed by other states
in implementing domestic bans, which in turn will give the campaign more
leverage at an international level.
The two year delay in bringing the law into force had been requested to
allow more research into uranium weapons to be conducted by the Belgian
government. ICBUW is hopeful that Belgium may take a leading role in any
future UN treaty negotiations although this will depend on how successful
the coalitions international lobbying has been. Few countries are
willing to stand alone on these issues and it is imperative that more
states come forward to support the process.
Were optimistic that the Oslo Process for a ban on cluster munitions
has reminded governments of the importance of working closely with NGOs
and civil society. However many governments will be busy with the process
until the end of 2008.
CADU Parliamentary Lobby Report
On February 7th, CADU visited
London to build support among MPs for the removal of DU weapons from the
UKs arsenal. Our research had shown that the UK MoD has been running
trials for alternatives to the CHARM 3 120mm DU shells used in wartime
operations by Challenger 2 tanks.
Predictably enough, the MoD has continued, in correspondence with us,
to stick to their line that DU is harmless and that it is a vital part
of the UKs defences; indeed they claimed that all the
stories in the trade press about tests were wrong and that tungsten is
just as dangerous. This last part was particularly interesting and is
the first admission from the MoD that their alternative heavy metal of
choice could prove just as environmentally damaging as DU. Something we
have suspected for some time.
Many CADU supporters were unable to get to London on the day of the lobby
but planned, instead, to lobby their MPs by post, using CADUs new
lobby pack copies of which are available from the office free of
After introducing our international guest speakers to the heroic Brian
Haw who later beat Tony Blair to be voted the Most Politically
Influential Man In Britain by viewers of Channel 4 News CADU supporters
met in Westminster Hall to meet with their MPs.
Three MPs in particular stood out during the afternoon; MP for Blaenau
Gwent Dai Davies assistant spoke with us at length over alternative
approaches to the question of environmental legislation. This including
invoking the Euratom Treaty to challenge DU pollution in the Irish Sea
from the Dundrennan testing range. He also offered to arrange for Dai
Davies MP to raise the issue in Parliament by asking whether the survivors
of the 2003 US friendly fire attack that killed Lance Corporal Matty Hull
were tested for DU exposure.
Meanwhile the wife, and assistant, of Labours Jim Dobbin - MP for
Heywood and Middleton - was sympathetic to the issue and listened intently
to the case against DU. Of particular note however was the Lib Dem MP
for Rochdale Paul Rowen. He offered to ask parliamentary question on why
the UK had ignored the European Parliaments calls for a moratorium
and ban and offered to post an Early Day Motion on the issue.
Later that evening, 30 people attended a public meeting in one of Palace
of Westminsters sumptuous committee rooms overlooking the Thames.
Rae Street (in the chair) opened the meeting by giving a brief
history of the launch of CADU and its international conference, covering
major areas of concern from mining, testing and use. In the face of Government
denial of any risk, CADU had continued to collect and disseminate information
and was working as a member of ICBUW towards a draft treaty banning the
manufacture, testing and use of uranium munitions.
She was followed by the first of our international guests, John La
Forge from the US- based group Nukewatch. Nukewatch have been
campaigning against the activities of the US arms giant Alliant Tech Systems
(ATK) for years and have a history of trespass, arrests and court cases;
where Minnesota juries have repeatedly ruled in Nukewatchs favour.
They have produced astronomical numbers of DU munitions, including a recent
order worth $38 million for DU tank rounds. ATK is one of the largest
producers of ammunition in the world. In 2006 it produced 12 million bullets.
It makes 95% of the Pentagons small calibre ammunition, as well
as machine guns, cluster bombs, landmines and Trident D5 rocket motors.
ATK is the largest DU producer in the US. The discussion by civil
society of this issue is drowned out by the voices of war - and sport.
There is little understanding of the grim consequences of these weapons,
which are in violation of rules that both the US and the UK have sworn
to obey, said La Forge in his opening.
He went on to explain how the arms industrys role is to: Obscure
our criminal conspiracy to wage war in violation of international law.
It does this by masking the contents of its products, denying their effects
and ridiculing peace activists - all with the help of supportive politicians
fed by tactical donations.
In hiding the effects of its products ATKs publicity talks in vague
terms of developing a new generation of weapons to defend the US. It does
not mention their potential to kill - only their outstanding lethality.
Their marketing peddles a dreamworld of doublespeak as they say they have
provided a capability critical to national security.
With approximately 15,000 employees located in more than 50 facilities
in 21 states, and with representatives in more than 50 countries. Alliant
Tech has an annual turnover of $3.3bn, they are making vast amounts of
money. Waste uranium is thought to be given away free, but each 30mm round
costs $21.50. The A10 can shoot $80,000 in a minute.
CADU readers may recall the findings of several labs following the NATO
attacks in the Balkans. Tests found that penetrators were contaminated
with highly dangerous radioactive elements, including plutonium and technetium.
Both elements, and the uranium isotope U236 can only be produced in nuclear
reactors. This indicated an extremely lax approach to nuclear waste controls.
Quoting a US National Commission Report, La Forge suggested it was far
more commonplace than previously thought, with up to half the US DU stockpile
being contaminated up to 250,000 tons.
In campaigning against ATK, Nukewatch and Alliant Tech Action activists
have used all the legal mechanisms at their disposal, included the Geneva
conventions and The Hague and Nuremberg declarations. More often than
not juries of their peers have sided with them and agreed that the activists
attempts to disrupt the company represented crime prevention under international
CADU then welcomed independent radiation advisor, Dr Ian Fairlie.
Fairlie was the secretary of CERRIE (Committee Examining the Risks
from Radioactive Internal Emitters) and has worked for both government
departments and for NGOs such as Greenpeace.
There are great similarities between uranium and depleted uranium
and it is nonsense to say that depleted uranium is less harmful than uranium,
he began. When the US used DU for the first time they thought
it was going to be a bonanza: in fact it turned into a horror show.
As an aside he described how, in 1999 when he worked for the Ministry
of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, he had been aware of a huge cover
up over the crash of a Korean Air 747 at Stansted Airport. At the time,
747s had 250 kilos of DU in their wings as ballast and agencies spent
six-and-a-half months removing and disposing of contaminated soil from
the site something that the press was never made aware of.
His presentation, full copies of which are available from the CADU office,
covered all the basics of uraniums radioactivity and chemical toxicity.
From the complexity of decay chains and what they mean for exposure rates,
to the activity of DU particles lodged inside the body. He went on to
compare the specific activity of typical forms of uranium: DU 15Bq, Uranium
Oxide 08.3Bq, uranium mill tailings >4Bq and 0.2% uranium ore 0.15Bq.
This reinforced his original assertion that DU is just as hazardous as
He then analysed the four main hazards from DU that it is a heavy
metal, that is a radionuclide, additionality (that these two risks can
be added together) and finally synergiam, where the combination of radioactivity
and chemical toxicity enhance each others effects.
DUs chemical effects make it a cytotoxin, a neurotoxin, a nephrotoxin
and a renotoxin. These chemical effects were the main concern of the Royal
Societys 2001 report into DU, which is now well out of date. Little
attention was paid at the time to radiation, additionality or synergism.
He discussed the relative roles of radiological and chemical effects.
Citing much of the research by Alexandra Miller from the US Armed Forces
Radiobiology Institute, he explained how DU causes increases in dicentric
chromosome aberrations (a globally recognised marker for radiological
effects), which are not observed with heavy metals. That research has
also shown that the number of neoplastic transformations (i.e. changes
which can lead to cancer) depends on the activity and not which isotope
it is. That DU is capable of inducing oxidative DNA damage in the absence
of significant radioactive decay i.e. through chemical toxicity
alone and that uraniums radiological and chemical effects might
play a role in tumour initiating as well as tumour-promoting.
Almost all of this new research and understanding supports CADUs
long held belief that uranium is far more hazardous than governments and
the military claim. And much of it has been triggered by the activities
of campaigners who have continued to raise the profile of DU amongst the
Finally he discussed the untargeted effects of radiation.
These are worrying observations that have yet to be included by bodies
calculating radiation risks. Perhaps the best known is the Bystander Effect,
whereby cells adjacent to a cell that receives a radiation dose, also
exhibit signs of radiation damage. It is thought that chemical messengers
called cytokines transmit the information to the adjacent cells but it
unclear why they should do so. Of equal concern is the emerging science
of Genomic Instability whereby the genetic processes within cells that
are irradiated but not killed suddenly collapse 20 or 40 cellular generations
down the line. The third of these untargeted effects are minisatellite
mutations - these areas of the genetic code that are more susceptible
to mutations than the code as a whole. It has been found that even fairly
low doses of ionising radiation can radically increase the mutation rate
in these areas adding extra uncertainty when trying to calculate
And its calculating dose that was at the crux of Fairlies
talk. With every new discovery our ability to accurately model the health
effects of certain types of exposure decreases, yet this is not accurately
reflected in the safety levels. This more than anything should back calls
for the Precautionary Principle when dealing with internal emitters such
as DU dust.
He concluded by saying that as we find out more about radiobiology, uraniums
toxicity increases. Yet the new radiation effects are still being denied.
DU and uranium are essentially the same. Beta particles are as important
as alpha particles when assessing DUs hazards and that there is
indicative evidence that uraniums radiological effects are as harmful
as its chemical effects. However it is difficult to establish uranium
risks with precision and more than anything else, we lack epidemiology.
European lobbyist for the International
Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons, Ria Verjauw, discussed how
the Belgian Coalition Stop Uranium Wapens have tried to use
Belgian law to bring in a domestic ban in the country. Although Belgium
isnt a user of DU it is a part of NATO, the seat of the European
Parliament and regularly has US DU shipments travelling through its port
In 2005 and 2006, Senators Sabine de Bethune and Erika Thijs of the Christian
Democrats and Senator Lionel Vandenberghe of Spirit launched the first
parliamentary initiatives against DU. Unfortunately they did not have
a large enough majority of votes to get the issue on the agenda of the
Commission of Foreign Affairs and Defence.
The initiatives of Joseph Arens (Christian Democrat) and Dirk Van der
Maelen (Socialist), both members of the Chamber of Representatives, who
introduced two proposals to ban uranium weapons under Belgian law, were
more successful. The two parliamentarians convinced the president of the
Commission of Defense to organise two hearings in Parliament. Experts
from different disciplines were invited. Representative Arens stated during
the Commission of Defence meeting that: Belgium needs to play a
pioneering role in the campaign for a worldwide ban on uranium weapons.
In June 2006 Belgium adopted a new law that deals with economic and individual
activities concerning weapons. Art. 8 of this law stated that: nobody
is allowed to produce, repair, buy, sell, store, transport or posses those
weapons that are forbidden by Belgian law.
Members of Parliament Van der Maelen (SP.A), Arens (CdH), Gerkens and
Nagy (ECOLO, Green) proposed an amendment to this law, which would add
to the list of forbidden weapons (now 18 in total): weapons and
munitions that contain DU and industrial manufactured uranium.
From January 1st 2007 Belgium is a non-permanent member of the UN Security
Council. On 14th of December 2006 the Commission on Foreign Affairs and
Defence of the Belgian Senate adopted a draft resolution on this membership.
Page 11 of this resolution states: The Commission requests the
Belgian Federal government to use its seat as non-permanent member of
the UN Security Council to realise the following recommendations: encouraging
other states to sign the Treaty on Certain Conventional Weapons (Geneva
convention October 10th 1980) and to sign and ratify the protocols; to
enlarge the application of Protocol III of the treaty on certain conventional
weapons dealing with incendiary weapons to prevent further use of white
phosphorous shells, and to stop the use of ammunition containing depleted
Green Party MEP Dr Caroline Lucas spoke passionately about the
recently approved resolution at the EU parliament, which again calls for
a moratorium leading to a ban on the use of DU weapons. She said the resolution
also called for independent research into the effects of DU on civilians
and on the land.
Dr Lucas had had a lengthy correspondence with the former Junior Defence
Minister, and now peer, Lewis Moonie about DU. He had insisted that the
use of DU ammunition remains an important option for the armed forces.
She had visited Basra and heard how at the beginning of 1991 there was
hardly any leukaemia there. By 2003 they were seeing three or four cases
per week. Discussing Lebanon she said she found the evidence compelling
and the felt that UNEP were not looking in the right place or with the
Acknowledging that it can be seen as having little political power,
Dr Lucas urged us to use the EU Parliament, calling it a valuable forum
to link international campaigns and somewhere where we can find out who
are our allies, whether they are Trades Unions or Veterans Associations.
She concluded by criticising the Government for its attempts to mystify
the public over topics like DU and radiation. This is completely at odds
with its remit to simplify these issues for the public. Her message to
all was that we can make a difference.
Jeremy Corbyn MP (Labour,
Islington North), to whom CADU would like to express its gratitude for
making this meeting possible, echoed Dr. Lucas' message about mystification.
He said he had been raising the question of DU since its use in Kosovo
and in the first Gulf War but had been met with obfuscation. The government
had always insisted that DU dust was entirely benign and would do no harm.
Yet the study from the World Health Organisation in 1998 had already shown
a huge rise in the incidence of cancer since 1991 in Southern Iraq.
With more DU used in the second Gulf War than in the first, the future
looks even worse and Iraq is set to become in fifty years the cancer capital
of the world. Yet still our government refuses to remove what it sees
as a 'strategic advantage' from our arsenals. He said it was crucial
that we remove the benign image DU has.
Lobbying in Geneva
On Tuesday 6th March, ICBUW
members delivered a lunchtime seminar on uranium weapons at the United
Nations in Geneva. The seminar was the first step towards building a wider
recognition and understanding of the problem amongst UN disarmament specialists.
From the Oslo Conference on Cluster Bombs
ICBUW is indebted to the support and assistance of the Womens International
League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) and other members of the NGO Committee
on Disarmament for the success of the event.
The event attracted diplomatic staff from more than 10 countries including
New Zealand, Mexico, Norway and Bulgaria. They were joined by representatives
from many of Genevas NGOs including the Red Cross and the Quakers.
CADU Coordinator and member of the ICBUW Steering Group Rae Street,
was the first to speak, introducing the Coalition and describing our history,
structure and goals.
She was followed by Dr Katsumi Furitsu from the Campaign Against
Radiation Exposure. Dr Furitsu has spent many years working with Japanese
bomb survivors and detailed the scientific and medical justification for
a ban on the use of uranium weapons.
Beginning with the basics, she went on to cover the biokinetics of uranium
oxides inside the body and the routes by which civilians and service personnel
can be contaminated. From there, Dr Furitsu described the effects of alpha
particles on a cellular level, covering new research into Genomic Instability
and the Bystander Effect. Using data from McCain and Millers studies
into the health effects of DU, she described how human cells exposed to
DU can turn malignant and form tumours when implanted into mice. From
radioactive hazards she then examined the chemical toxicity of DU, using
Diane Sterns 2005 paper on DNA damage caused by uranyl acetate.
Research into chromosome damage, micro particles and Gulf War Veteran
morbidity was also covered. Dr Furitsu finished with a call for the Precautionary
Principle to be respected and for urgent medical assistance to be offered
to Iraq, where doctors and patients are still without even basic medical
supplies four years after the invasion.
Red Cross advisor and IHL specialist Prof Manfred Mohr then introduced
delegates to the legal status of uranium weapons. He described how they
breach Environmental, Humanitarian and Human Rights Law and went on to
discuss some of the possible routes towards a complete ban. Options to
be considered included the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) and
the Protocol V on Incendiary Weapons. However there are problems with
both these approaches. The wording of Protocol V is very precise and uranium
weapons do not have a primary incendiary effect; meanwhile the CCW has
few members from the majority world and any member - such as the US -
can veto a decision.
As the Cluster Munition Coalition has so recently shown, an independent
treaty is the best way forward and the best way to highlight the existing
illegality of uranium weapons.
The next speaker, Emmanual Jacob, was particularly welcome. As
President of EUROMIL - an umbrella group of military unions and
bodies - he represents the opinion of more than 28 unions from Europe
and beyond. Since 2005 they have been strongly against the use of uranium
weapon systems both out of concern for their own members and for civilian
populations. His presence reflected the importance of strong ties with
the military on this issue.
Following the seminar, we organised several face to face meetings with
diplomats and NGOs. The Irish delegation expressed interest in
our campaign and requested further information on it. The Irish Foreign
Minister has been very strong on challenging the radioactive emissions
from the UKs Sellafield nuclear site.
Following their vote for a ban, it was only right that we met with the
Belgian delegation. Mr Alain Vangucht, First Secretary on Disarmament
complimented ICBUW on the quality of the seminar and said that : It
would be logical for Belgium to take action in New York, referring
to our plans to introduce a resolution into the UN First Assembly this
October. However he conceded that he would need instruction from Brussels
to do this and that the domestic political will had to be there. He promised
to forward our information to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and highlighted
the important role that Civil Society has in educating politicians on
issues such as ours.
To tie in with a visit to Costa Rica by ICBUW representatives,
we visited their delegation. The minister was very sympathetic and was
keen for us to provide him with more information. He promised to compile
a report and forward it to San Jose and suggested that we speak with other
South American missions as many are active in disarmament issues.
The following morning we met with the New Zealand Ambassador for Disarmament
and his Second Secretary. They were perhaps the best informed of all the
missions, thanks to a strong domestic anti-DU movement. They revealed
that parliamentary questions had been asked in the country and that there
were concerns over compensation for veterans. Illustrating our concerns
about the CCW they recalled the one and only time that uranium weapons
had been mentioned during the talks. It had been during a discussion of
foreseability - that being the use of weapons that may have
long and short term effects, such as Agent Orange. The US apparently grew
very uncomfortable when DU was mentioned.
We then began a tour of South America, by way of Argentina,
Peru and Chile. Again we received sympathetic hearings at all
these meetings but they also illustrated how much educational groundwork
we as a movement need to do, most had heard of uranium weapons but all
were lacking a complete picture of their effects and the science behind
What also became apparent is the amount of work being put into the Oslo
Process for a ban on cluster munitions. Many countries with strong
records on disarmament issues, such as Norway, Ireland, New Zealand and
Peru are all heavily involved in the treaty process and are expending
political capital through inter-governmental lobbying. The result of this
may be that uranium weapons will have to wait until at least late 2008
- when the CMC hope to have a cluster treaty completed and on the table
- to be taken up by national governments.
However, there are also positive aspects to this, the Oslo Process is
reminding states that disarmament treaties can exist and be propagated
outside the auspices of the CCW. It is a long time since the landmines
treaty and governments are again waking up to the input that NGOs can
have on decision making and policy.
The main challenge will be to find a lead country to back our process
100%. At all the lobby meetings we had, one of the first questions asked
was who else is supporting this?
We will of course return to Geneva for more talks and will continue to
develop new contacts with states. We are at the beginning of what will
be a long road but decisions by the European Parliament and Belgium are
signs that a shift is beginning to take place.
At the end of February, 100 NGOs from 30 countries met in Oslo for the first
step towards a treaty banning the use of cluster bombs. The civil society
event ran in parallel with the first in a series of high level negotiations
between states to propagate a treaty outside the aegis of the Convention
on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW). Concerns over the use of cluster
munitions (CM) have been increasing since the 70s where they were used in
large numbers by the US in South East Asia. Israel dropped 4million in the
72 hours leading up to the end of the conflict in Lebanon in 2006. It was
this, more than anything else, which sparked sufficient global interest
in the problem to trigger the talks in Oslo.
However, unlike land mines but like DU, CMs are not as yet a global problem
but have the potential to be. Around two dozen countries have been affected
by their use but more than 75 governments have stockpiled them the
treaty aims to prevent a future crisis.
There are some stark parallels between ICBUW's work towards a DU treaty
and the work of the Cluster Munition Coalition. Like clusters, DU is a hazardous
and indiscriminate remnant of war and while the effects of clusters are
more immediate and clear cut, there has still been denial of their effects
among user nations.
The Norwegian conference was organised with the support of the Norwegian
government and was the first step in a new treaty process. The aim of the
first meeting was to consolidate political will, to that end there was no
treaty text on the table merely a declaration stating that there
is a problem and that concrete steps should be taken, and taken quickly.
The declaration aims to outlaw their production, use, transfer and stockpiling
by 2008. There will also be obligations for clearance and victim assistance.
The landmine treaty negotiations were completed within one year.
Of fundamental importance is to bypass the CCW. With only 100 members it
isnt representative of the global community, controlled as it is by
the powerful western nations - the Security Council Permanent Members -
where any single state can block proposals. Of the 47 countries taking part
(the first landmine talks had six countries present) it was thought that
10 or 12 didnt want a treaty and many others such as the UK would
demand that the talks were carried out within the CCW. This was seen as
a delaying and stalling tactic. Last June in Geneva just an hour and half
was set aside for talks on CMs.
Once some supporting nations were found, the plan was to isolate the others.
Their process places the onus on foreign ministries to take concrete steps.
The CMC and Norwegians felt that the countries attending would be deeply
shocked at the level of civil society interest however it was thought
necessary that national delegations should still feel empowered within the
process and not overwhelmed.
The talks were held over two
days in the Soria Moria Hotel near Oslo. National delegations were subject
to intense lobbying by NGO members and CMC members made several presentations
to delegates within the chamber. Particularly powerful among the NGOs
were the victims - amputees from Afghanistan, the Balkans and Lebanon.
There were also mine clearance specialists present who had suffered horrific
injuries clearing submunitions.
The CMC cleverly released a pre conference declaration, which states would
have to opt out of if they didnt agree with it a useful tool
to isolate difficult countries. There were a lot of private discussions
on the declarations content, most of which were largely ignored
by the CCW.
After two days of heavy negotiations, 46 countries had signed up the declaration,
including a reluctant UK. It seems that Hilary Benn MP had been very supportive
and had been making statements in favour of a ban, against government
policy. On March 19th the UK agreed to remove all its ageing clusters
from service immediately. However they are trying to cling to their supposedly
smart clusters, to see how smart they are, please visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_jsyObTG8k
As you will probably
gather from this bumper edition of CADU News, its been a very busy
few months for us. But it has also been an inspirational one. We are all
going to remember 2007 as the Year When Things Started to Move.
It began with our lobby of parliament, where we were pleased with the
level of interest from MPs - the vast majority of whom contacted us directly
requesting material. We will now follow up on this and tell you how we
get on. We believe that we now have sufficient evidence to support a call
for the Precautionary Principle at the very least. But changes will not
Just a fortnight after the lobby, I found myself in Oslo representing
ICBUW at the Conference on Cluster Munitions. Aside from the opportunity
to make some fantastic contacts, it was remarkable to be present at such
an historic event. It was the first time an independent disarmament treaty
process had begun since the Land Mine Treaty was born in the early 90s.
More importantly it is exactly the sort of the process that ICBUW hopes
to begin in order to ban DU.
What it did was illustrate just how much work we have to do, but it was
also a cause for optimism, we now understand clearly what we need to do
in order to achieve a ban.
It was that understanding that led us once more to Geneva - the home of
the UN Committee on Disarmament. We were heartened by the level of interest
in the issue at our seminar and at our meetings with diplomatic staff.
However it also became clear that we need to work much harder at propagating
reliable information about the science and reality of DU weapons to key
decision makers. To this end we had converted our CADU Lobby Pack into
an ICBUW Briefing and this proved to be an invaluable tool during our
News of Belgiums wonderful decision to implement a domestic ban
- which reached us the morning after the seminar - was also of great help.
We are also heartened by murmurings from Belgium that they may support
a treaty process if other states come forward too. To that end we have
been supporting the efforts of our ICBUW colleagues currently in Costa
Rica, where similarly positive noises are being made from a country traditionally
strong on disarmament issues.
Our next step will be to try and create a network of sympathetic states
across the globe, all of whom can lobby their neighbours. There are limits
on the amount of lobbying that NGOs can do and much of it must be done
at the government to government level.
It would be foolish to ignore our neighbours in Europe. In spite of Dr
Lucas free admission at our parliamentary lobby that the European
Parliament has little real political clout; their repeated calls for a
ban have been another powerful lobbying tool. It is imperative that we
work with our European friends to try and build up a political consensus
throughout the continent that the use of uranium weapons is unacceptable.
This will be made easier by our growing links with EUROMIL - the European
union of military unions who are strongly against the use
of DU. It was the close cooperation between NGOs and the military that
is one of my abiding memories of Oslo, and it is a path that we should
In May we will be in Brussels to pursue this strategy further, helping
ICBUW and the European Greens with an exhibition on DU victims by the
fantastic Japanese war photographer Naomi Toyoda. Together with US veterans,
Iraqi doctors, scientists and specialists we will seek to increase the
momentum for a series of domestic bans in Europe.
So, please forgive us if we havent been in the office to take your
phone calls or have been slow in answering your letters and emails. As
you can see, we have been somewhat distracted of late, but rest assured
that real and positive steps towards a ban are being taken by CADU and
its coalition partners and we are grateful for your patience and your
The website has also been a little neglected recently and for that you
have my sincere apologies. However this is partly due to my editing of
the ICBUW site which is rapidly becoming an excellent source of up to
date information on our campaign. Please visit it at www.bandepleteduranium.org
Doug Weir, Development Worker
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