Taking aim at those who finance Cluster bombs

Lima: Taking Aim at Those Who Finance Cluster Bombs

Six year old Abdullah was injured
during a strike on Basra, Iraq in
2003. Submunitions were scattered
over a residential area - smashing
through the windows of his home
as he slept, the shrapnel cut off his
arm and tore open his abdomen.
In 2003 the US and the UK
dropped hundreds of thousands of
submunitions on residential areas
of Iraq.


The Cluster bomb feeling documentary on investment of Dutch pension fund in arms industry
Banking Secretsdocumentary on investments of Dutch banks in arms industry and other dodgy projects.

24 May 07 - A future international treaty to ban cluster munitions should prohibit financial institutions from investing in companies that manufacture the weapons, Thomas Nash, coordinator of the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC), told IPS in the Peruvian capital.
Ángel Páez/IPS, Lima - Nash said the draft treaty being discussed Wednesday through Friday in Lima, Peru refers specifically to a ban on financing for cluster munitions manufacturers.
"Belgium has not only banned the production of cluster bombs, but also adopted a law in March that bans banks and investment funds operating in that country from investing in companies that make these munitions. All countries should follow Belgium’s lead," said Nash in a civil society forum held Tuesday in Lima, ahead of the intergovernmental conference that opened Wednesday.

Cutting off the flow of money to manufacturers of cluster munitions would without a doubt discourage production, said Nash, who added that the international banking community should listen to the world’s clamour.

The government officials meeting in Lima this week are following up on a February agreement reached by 47 countries in Oslo, Norway to finish drafting a global treaty next year aimed at eradicating cluster munitions.

At least 30 additional governments will sign the Oslo agreement in Lima, Nash told IPS. Some of these new adherents, like Argentina, Britain, Canada, Chile, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, produce cluster bombs. Another manufacturer, Brazil, excused itself from participating in the conference.
Cluster bombs are dropped in a canister that splits open in mid-air, scattering hundreds of soda-can-size bomblets over wide areas. The bombs can be either air-dropped or ground-launched.
Critics say cluster munitions are difficult to target accurately, and between five and 30 percent of the bomblets do not explode on impact, remaining in or on the ground and posing a risk to civilians, sometimes for years to come

According to Handicap International, 400 million people live in affected areas where they are at risk from unexploded cluster bomblets.

The six biggest producers of cluster bombs — Lockheed Martin, EADS, Thales, GenCorp, Textron and Raytheon — received 12.6 billion dollars in financing from 68 financial institutions between 2004 and 2007, according to the report "Explosive Investments: Financial Institutions and Cluster Munitions" by Netwerk Vlaanderen, a Belgian organisation that monitors arms trade funding and promotes sustainable investment.

The U.S.-based Textron, whose CBU-105 bombs were used by the U.S. army in Iraq, received a 1.25 billion dollar credit facility in 2005, arranged by Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase, which provided 120 million dollars each. A total of 19 banks — including Bank of America, Britain’s Barclays, Germany’s Deutsche Bank and Switzerland’s UBS — are now taking part in the credit arrangement.

In March 2003, U.S. forces dropped cluster bombs in the Iraqi region of Hilla, south of Baghdad, killing at least 33 civilians and injuring 109, according to a report by the New York-based Human Rights Watch.

And although the Vietnam war ended more than 30 years ago, cluster bombs continue to cause severe damages to the civilian population in that southeast Asian country.
The CMC reports that 34 countries continue to produce cluster munitions, another 25 have used them in armed conflicts, and 75 have stockpiles that pose a threat to humanity.
Handicap International activist Anne Villeneuve said that 98 percent of victims of cluster munitions are civilians, the great majority of whom are poor, and many of whom are children.

Although Handicap International has compiled information on 13,308 confirmed casualties from cluster submunitions, it estimates that the total number of deaths from these weapons ranges between 55,000 and 100,000.

U.S. activist Jody Williams, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 for leading the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which concluded that year with the signing of a global treaty, was in Lima to deliver a message of support from herself and another five Nobel laureates: Guatemalan indigenous activist Rigoberta Menchú, Iranian lawyer and human rights activist Shirin Ebadi, Northern Irish peace activists Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan, and Wangari Maathai, an environmental and political activist from Kenya.

The Nobel Women’s Initiative statement says that "Arms control and disarmament are not esoteric issues that only a few ‘experts’ are capable of handling — generally in negotiations behind closed doors. Any discussion related to weapons must not be based solely on military considerations, but must include the humanitarian perspective as well."

Cluster bombs "have become synonymous with civilian casualties," the Nobel Peace Prize-winners stated.
Williams said cluster bombs are an even bigger problem than land mines, because their effect is more lethal, and argued that institutions that finance the producers are as responsible as the manufacturers themselves for the fatal consequences of the weapons.
"While so many of the world’s arms cause so much human misery, cluster munitions deserve to be singled out as an especially pernicious weapon of ill repute," Williams said.
She added that the United States alone has millions of stockpiled cluster munitions.
Since 1999, the areas where the largest numbers of cluster bombs have been used are Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo and Lebanon, and in every case, the large majority of victims have been civilians, said Villeneuve.

The Ottawa Treaty or Mine Ban Treaty should have brought a de facto cut-off of investment in factories producing land mines, but that does not seem to be happening, because there are banks that invest in the manufacturers, even if they come from countries that have banned land mines, said Villeneuve.

That is why the cluster munitions treaty must explicitly prohibit investment in companies that manufacture these weapons, she asserted.
Nash said "we have achieved a world practically free of land mines; now we are trying to clean the world of cluster bombs. And that is not an impossible dream." (END/2007)

Raytheon (USA) produces the AGM154 Joint Standoff weapon (JSOW), an air-delivered bomb with some cluster munition variants. For example the AGM154A, the standard version, contains 145 BLU-97/B sub munitions. Also the Tomahawk cruise missile has amongst its variants a submunition warhead Explosive investments

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