AUSTRALIA RATIFIES GLOBAL TREATY TO BAN CLUSTER MUNITIONS
On 17 October, Foreign Minister Bob Carr, Attorney-General Nicola Roxon, and Defence Minister Stephen Smith announced that Australia's commitment to reducing the humanitarian impact of armed conflict had been strengthened with the ratification of a treaty banning the use of cluster munitions.
Senator Carr said the treaty will enter into force for Australia in April 2013.
“Australia has been a strong advocate of an international ban on cluster munitions and an active player in treaty negotiations,” Senator Carr said. “I’m proud that Australia was one of the first countries to sign the Convention on 3 December 2008.”
Defence Minister Stephen Smith said "Australia's strong support for the Convention on Cluster Munitions reflects Australia’s longstanding commitment to international efforts to reduce the humanitarian impact of armed conflict."
Australia’s ratification is another significant step towards securing a global ban on these indiscriminate and dangerous weapons. Australia will join 76 other States already party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
“Cluster munitions are weapons that can have a tragic impact on communities,” Attorney-General Nicola Roxon said. “With this legislation, it is now an offence to use, stockpile or transfer cluster munitions and also to encourage others to engage with these dangerous weapons.”
In preparation for ratification, the Government has taken steps to ensure that all conduct prohibited by the Convention is the subject of a criminal offence under Australian law. The Criminal Code Amendment (Cluster Munitions Prohibition) Act 2012 faithfully gives effect to the Convention, and strengthens Australia’s already robust legal framework regarding weapons.
Australia does not have operational stockpiles of cluster munitions and will not approve the stockpiling of cluster munitions in Australia by other countries. This commitment will be confirmed in Australia’s Annual Transparency Reports under the Convention.
The Convention and the Act will also apply to Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel during military operations and ADF personnel serving alongside the defence forces of States not party to the Convention. It will be applied in practice through ADF doctrine, procedures, rules and directives, as needed.
Through the Mine Action Strategy for the Australian Aid Program 2010-2014, Australia has pledged AU$100 million over five years towards a world free from cluster munitions, landmines and other explosive remnants of war.
In 2012-13, Australia provided $915,000 to Mines Advisory Group (MAG) and Norwegian People's Aid (NPA), to accelerate the return of cleared land to the people of southern Lebanon. Consistent with Australia’s Global Mine Action Strategy, funding will help to clear greater areas of land, restoring access to farming land and infrastructure, and removing the risk of death and injury for communities in southern Lebanon.