Vienna / Geneva, 25 November 2011 – “Austria is determined to defend the achievement of the international ban on cluster munition reached in 2008“, stressed Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger in connection with the negotiations on cluster munition currently taking place in Geneva as part of the International Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. “Of course, we welcome the fact that states not yet willing to accede to the ban convention are at least prepared to undertake intermediate humanitarian steps. These steps, however, may not undermine the ban convention currently in force, or even lead to legitimization of the use of cluster munition under international law“, Spindelegger added.
A total of 111 states have signed the Convention on Cluster Munition, the so-called Oslo Convention in 2008, committing themselves to the common objective of banning this weapon worldwide, which makes no distinction between military targets and civilians, and continues to claim victims even decades after the end of conflicts.
This achievement is now at risk from the negotiations currently taking place in Geneva. The main countries in possession of cluster munition, such as the United States, Russia, and China are promoting a new treaty on cluster munition that bans only old weapon stocks. The use of munition produced more recently, which is also the cause of serious humanitarian problems, will remain possible either for long transitional periods or, in some cases, for ever. Such a belated legitimization of weapons banned by the Oslo Convention, however, is highly questionable for Austria and many other states. “The use of this particularly inhuman and dreadful weapon must remain banned under international law. Anything else would be an unjustifiable retreat for humanitarian international law“, emphasized the Vice Chancellor.
Together with states like Mexico and Norway, Austria emphatically opposes the draft convention and an undermining of the international law standard, which is also strongly criticized by the key humanitarian players, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, the United Nations, and many humanitarian non-governmental organizations. “Austria will not agree to an international law instrument as long as the fundamental problem of a de-facto legitimization of cluster munition has not been solved“, Spindelegger concluded.
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