Canada urged to take lead in cluster bomb ban
OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada should revive its leadership role in the successful global campaign against landmines and push for a similar ban on cluster bombs, activists said on Monday.
Canada's government was instrumental 10 years ago, in partnership with nongovernmental organizations, in drafting the treaty banning anti-personnel mines, known as the Ottawa Treaty.
Today 156 countries have joined, some 40 million landmines have been destroyed and the number of civilians killed or maimed by the weapons has been drastically reduced, according to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, a coalition of nongovernmental organizations.
On Monday, Ottawa pledged C$80 million ($80 million) for mine clearance and victims' assistance in Afghanistan.
But the country, renowned for its peacekeeping image, has had no clear role in a new set of negotiations under way in Oslo for an international agreement to outlaw the production, sale and use of cluster munitions, scheduled to be signed by the end of 2008.
"The countries that were at the forefront of the Ottawa process are no longer there today," said Jody Williams, winner of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize for her landmine work.
"I'm sorry, but that includes Canada as well as France, Germany, the United Kingdom ... I would ask Canada to come on board, like it did for the landmine ban. You have more or less a de facto moratorium; make it reality in law," Williams said.
Representatives of 47 governments met in Oslo in February to begin crafting an international ban on cluster bombs.
The weapons are blamed for killing and maiming thousands of civilians, often long after fighting has stopped, and are used in conflicts from the Middle East to Vietnam. Continued...