(Ottawa – 17 March 2015) Canada has finally ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions and totally banned these inhumane weapons. After signing the Convention on Cluster Munitions in December 2008, Canada ratified the Convention today and will be fully bound by the provisions of the Convention on September 1, 2015. As a full state party, Canada will join 89 other states in a total ban on cluster munitions due to the unacceptable humanitarian harm they cause. The Convention bans the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of cluster munitions as well as assistance with any of those acts.
Mines Action Canada remains concerned about the national legislation used to implement the Convention on Cluster Munitions. The two and a half year long process to pass this legislation is indicative of the importance of the Convention and the widespread concern about loopholes in the legislation known as Bill C-6. During the legislative process, Bill C-6 received intense national and international attention including commentary from the International Committee of the Red Cross, from diplomats, from international organizations, from humanitarian experts and from civil society organizations. Mines Action Canada was pleased to see the House of Commons make an amendment to the legislation in 2013.
“Although Bill C-6 contained numerous loopholes when it was passed; it is clear that Canadians will not use cluster munitions. The debate about the legislation has ensured that the small number of Canadian allies who remain outside the Convention will not likely be putting Canadian personnel in the difficult position of assisting with the use of this banned and internationally condemned weapon,” said Paul Hannon, Executive Director. “Senator Fortin-Duplessis’ statement that ‘Canadian commanders will never have the right to order the use of cluster munitions’ even during joint military operations is a positive step and we look forward to clear directives from the Chief of Defense Staff.”
The thorough review of the legislation included clarification from the government that Bill C-6 and Canada’s ratification of the Convention on Cluster Munitions bans the investment in cluster munition production. Department of Justice officials stated that Canadian investment in cluster munition producers is in fact considered aiding in their production and is illegal - “[i]f there's investment in Canada in a company offshore that amounts to aiding and abetting, then it will be subject to the Canadian criminal law under the bill.”
Canada has been complying with some of obligations under the Convention on Cluster Munitions prior to ratification. In June 2014, all of Canada’s remaining cluster munition stockpiles were destroyed well in advance of the 8 years after ratification deadline contained in the Convention. Canada has also been submitting voluntary reports to the States Parties annually.
As a full State Party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, the Government of Canada is obligated to help clear contaminated land and assist the victims of this horrific weapon. Mines Action Canada is calling on the government to resume its position of a top five donor to mine action by contributing at least $1 per Canadian per year. Canadian funding can save lives and ensure that Canadian tourists, businesspeople and aid workers can walk without fear everywhere.
Amidst reports of cluster munition use in Syria, Ukraine and Libya, Canada’s ratification strengthens the stigma against these inhuman weapons. Mr. Hannon further said “We expect Canada to discourage our allies from using cluster munitions and to encourage all countries to join the treaty.”
For more information or to schedule an interview, contact:
Erin Hunt, Program Coordinator, Mines Action Canada, mob.: 613 302-3088 email: [email protected]
Notes to Editors
About cluster munitions:
A cluster munition (or cluster bomb) is a weapon containing multiple - often hundreds - of small explosive submunitions or bomblets. Cluster munitions are dropped from the air or fired from the ground and designed to break open in mid-air, releasing the submunitions over an area that can be the size of several football fields. They cannot discriminate between civilians and soldiers. Many of the submunitions fail to explode on impact and remain a threat to lives and livelihoods for decades after a conflict.
116 countries have joined the Convention on Cluster Munitions (89 full States Parties - in bold):
Afghanistan, Albania, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Cameroon, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Comoros, DR Congo, Republic of Congo, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Côte D’Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Fiji, France, Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, The Holy See, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Lao PDR, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia FYR, Madagascar , Malawi, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mexico, Republic of Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Palau, Palestine, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Rwanda, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tomé and Principe, St. Vincent and Grenadines, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Slovenia, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Uganda, United Kingdom, Uruguay, and Zambia. See http://stopclustermunitions.org/en-gb/the-treaty/treaty-status.aspx for details.
About Mines Action Canada (MAC)
Formed in 1994 Mines Action Canada (MAC) is a coalition of Canadian non-governmental organizations concerned with the human and socio-economic impacts of landmines, cluster munitions and other weapons causing similar humanitarian impacts. It is the Canadian partner of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), the 1997 co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize and is a founding member of the Cluster Munition Coalition. www.minesactioncanada.org