Thursday, December 4, 2008

Clustering around new treaty

Representatives from more than half the countries in the world met in Oslo, Norway, yesterday to sign the Convention on Cluster Munitions that, as we've posted, was adopted at an international conference in Dublin, Ireland, in May.
The 1st to sign was the host country, followed by Lebanon and Laos, 2 of the many states whose children, women, and men have been maimed by the aerial bomblets. (photo credit)
Not signing were, among others, China, India, Israel, Pakistan, Russia, and the United States, the last for reasons that this post analyzed.
A surprise signer was Afghanistan. The Associated Press reported that the country "appeared to have been swayed by a teenager who lost his legs to a cluster bomb and lobbied the Afghan delegation to sign the treaty." The signature marks a departure from the policy of the United States, engaged since 2001 in aiding Afghanistan's current government militarily. But it is not the 1st: Afghanistan already is a member state of the International Criminal Court, a treaty regime the Bush Administration repudiated soon after entering office in 2000.
Yet to be determined:
► How long will it be before the 30th state deposits its instrument of ratification so that the cluster Munitions treaty may enter into force?
► What will be the policy of the United States with regard to this convention -- not to mention the ICC treaty, the land mines treaty, and a host of others -- once the Obama Administration takes office next month?

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