Cross-posted from The Global Sociology Blog.
Via Human Rights Watch , or, as I call it, “is there no issue on which this administration is not willing to take the most vile position, contradicting every standard of good global governance and just plain ol’ human decency”? I know… simple answer to simple question. Anyhoo,
“US efforts to undermine a new treaty banning cluster munitions met with significant defeat today at the final negotiations in Dublin, Human Rights Watch said. Preliminary agreement on a draft treaty text on the afternoon of May 28 indicated that virtually all of the 110 countries gathered in Dublin favor a more comprehensive ban of cluster munitions than the US itself can tolerate. News on the morning of May 28 that the British government was willing to give up cluster munitions that it had used in recent years in Iraq left Washington further isolated in the endgame in Dublin.”
Oh, and in case you wondered, the Bush administration did not even bothered to send representatives to the negotiations, because, you know, if we negotiate ANYTHING, the terrorists win. However, the administration lobbied hard behind the scene in the hopes of undermining the treaty-in-the-making.
““In the end, the Americans had very little support in Dublin,” said Steve Goose, arms director at Human Rights Watch. “It’s a big defeat for the Bush administration. This conference is going to produce a strong treaty banning cluster munitions, and there’s nothing the White House can do to stop it.”
Expert analysts of the treaty say it will require the United States to remove its stockpiles of cluster munitions at several military bases around the world, a measure that Washington had firmly opposed.”
But of course, the Bush administration was able to got a loophole in that states that signatories can cooperate with non-signatory states on specific operation (hence the “interoperability” loophole). So, that would mean that the US could cooperate on a specific operation (always humanitarian, they insist) with a state using cluster munitions.
The human rights community is opposed to the loophole but there was no way around it. In the end, HRW thinks it will be a strong treaty. The final vote is scheduled for Friday. The impact of the treaty will be not only practical (destruction of stocks) but also symbolic:
“The treaty text released today represents a significant victory on key provisions such as the definition of cluster munitions, assistance for victims, and the treaty’s quick entry into force.
“The treaty is going to stigmatize cluster munitions in the same way that the landmines treaty did,” said Goose. “This is a weapon headed for obsolescence, fast.””
And indeed, considering the case of landmines, stigmatizing a type a weapon is a significant victory.