141 states support Depleted Uranium Ban

Campaign Against Depleted Uranium

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What is DU?

  • Depleted Uranium is a waste product of the nuclear enrichment process.
  • After natural uranium has been ‘enriched’ to concentrate the isotope U235 for use in nuclear fuel or nuclear weapons, what remains is DU.
  • The process produces about 7 times more DU than enriched uranium.

Despite claims that DU is much less radioactive than natural uranium, it actually emits about 75% as much radioactivity. It is very dense and when it strikes armour it burns (it is ‘pyrophoric’). As a waste product, it is stockpiled by nuclear states, which then have an interest in finding uses for it.

DU is used as the ‘penetrator’ – a long dart at the core of the weapon – in armour piercing tank rounds and bullets. It is usually alloyed with another metal. When DU munitions strike a hard target the penetrator sheds around 20% of its mass, creating a fine dust of DU, burning at extremely high temperatures.

This dust can spread 400 metres from the site immediately after an impact. It can be resuspended by human activity, or by the wind, and has been reported to have travelled twenty-five miles on air currents. The heat of the DU impact and secondary fires means that much of the dust produced is ceramic, and can remain in the lungs for years if inhaled.

Who uses it?
At least 18 countries are known to have DU in their arsenals:

  • UK
  • US
  • France
  • Russia
  • China
  • Greece
  • Turkey
  • Thailand
  • Taiwan
  • Israel
  • Bahrain
  • Egypt
  • Kuwait
  • Saudi Arabia
  • India
  • Belarus
  • Pakistan
  • Oman

Most of these countries were sold DU by the US, although the UK, France and Pakistan developed it independently.

Only the US and the UK are known to have fired it in warfare. It was used in the 1991 Gulf War, in the 2003 Iraq War, and also in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the 1990s and during the NATO war with Serbia in 1999. While its use has been claimed in a number of other conflicts, this has not been confirmed.

Health Problems

  • DU is both chemically toxic and radioactive. In laboratory tests it damages human cells, causing DNA mutations and other carcinogenic effects.
  • Reports of increased rates of cancer and birth defects have consistently followed DU usage.
  • Representatives from both the Serbian and Iraqi governments have linked its use with health problems amongst civilians.
  • Many veterans remain convinced DU is responsible for health problems they have experienced since combat

Information from animal studies suggests DU may cause several different kinds of cancer. In rats, DU in the blood-stream builds up in the kidneys, bone, muscles, liver, spleen, and brain. In other studies it has been shown to cross both the blood-brain barrier and the placenta, with obvious implications for the health of the foetus. In general, the effects of DU will be more severe for women and children than for healthy men.

In 2008 a study by the Institute of Medicine in the US listed medical conditions that were a high priority to study for possible links with DU exposure: cancers of the lung, testes and kidney; lung disease; nervous system disorders; and reproductive and developmental problems.


Epidemiology

What is missing from the picture is large-scale epidemiological studies on the effects of DU – where negative health effects match individuals with exposure to DU. None of the studies done on the effects on soldiers have been large enough to make meaningful conclusions. No large scale studies have been done on civilian populations.

In the case of Iraq, where the largest volume of DU has been fired, the UK and US governments are largely responsible for the conditions which have made studies of the type required impossible. Despite this, these same governments use the scientific uncertainties to maintain that it is safe, and that concerns about it are misplaced.

However, in cases where human health is in jeopardy, a precautionary approach should prevail. Scientific scepticism should prevent a hazardous course of action from being taken until safety is assured. To allow it to continue until the danger has been proved beyond dispute is an abuse of the principle of scientific caution.

Environmental Impacts
The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has studied some of the sites contaminated by DU in the Balkans, but it has only been able to produce a desk study on Iraq. Bullets and penetrators made of DU that do not hit armour become embedded in the ground and corrode away, releasing material into the environment.

It is not known what will happen to DU in the long term in such circumstances. The UNEP mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina found DU in drinking water, and could still detect it in the air after seven years – the longest period of time a study has been done after the end of a conflict.

Uranium has a half life of 4.5 billion years, so DU released into the environment will be a hazard for unimaginable timescales.

Decontaminating sites where DU has been used requires detailed scrutiny and monitoring, followed by the removal and reburial of large amounts of soil and other materials. Monitoring of groundwater for contamination is also advised by UNEP. CADU calls for the cost of cleaning up and decontaminating DU affected sites to be met by the countries responsible for the contamination.

The Campaign
CADU is a founder member of the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons (ICBUW) – now comprising over 102 member organisations in 27 countries.

CADU and ICBUW campaign for a precautionary approach: there is significant evidence that DU is dangerous, and faced with scientific uncertainty the responsible course of action is for it not to be used. To this end CADU and ICBUW are working towards an international treaty that bans the use of uranium in weapons akin to those banning cluster bombs and landmines.

Through the efforts of campaigners worldwide the use of DU has been condemned by four resolutions in the European Parliament, been the subject of an outright ban in Belgium, and brought onto the agenda of the United Nations General Assembly.

Source

Sign Petition to Ban DU

International Campaign to Ban Uranium Weapons

141 states support second uranium weapons resolution in UN General Assembly vote

The United Nations General Assembly has passed, by a huge majority, a resolution requesting its agencies to update their positions on the health and environmental effects of uranium weapons.
December 2 2008

The resolution, which had passed the First Committee stage on October 31st by 127 states to four, calls on three UN agencies – the World Health Organisation (WHO), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to update their positions on uranium weapons. The overwhelming support for the text reflects increasing international concern over the long-term impact of uranium contamination in post-conflict environments and military ranges.

In the 17 years since uranium weapons were first used on a large scale in the 1991 Gulf War, a huge volume of peer-reviewed research has highlighted previously unknown pathways through which exposure to uranium’s heavy metal toxicity and radioactivity may damage human health.
Throughout the world, parliamentarians have responded by supporting calls for a moratorium and ban, urging governments and the military to take a precautionary approach. However the WHO and IAEA have been slow to react to this wealth of new evidence and it is hoped that this resolution will go some way to resolving this situation.

In a welcome move, the text requests that all three agencies work closely with countries affected by the use of uranium weapons in compiling their research. Until now, most research by UN member states has focused on exposure in veterans and not on the civilian populations living in contaminated areas. Furthermore, recent investigations into US veteran studies have found them to be wholly incapable of producing useful data.

The text also repeats the request for states to submit reports and opinions on uranium weapons to the UN Secretary General in the process that was started by last year’s resolution. Thus far, 19 states have submitted reports to the Secretary General; many of them call for action on uranium weapons and back a precautionary approach. It also places the issue on the agenda of the General Assembly’s 65th Session; this will begin in September 2010.

The First Committee vote saw significant voting changes in comparison to the previous year’s resolution, with key EU and NATO members such as the Netherlands, Finland, Norway and Iceland changing position to support calls for further action on the issue. These changes were echoed at the General Assembly vote. Once again Japan, which has been under considerable pressure from campaigners, supported the resolution.

Of the permanent five Security Council members, the US, UK and France voted against. They were joined by Israel. Russia abstained and China refused to vote.

The list of states abstaining from the vote, while shorter than in 2007, still contains Belgium, the only state to have implemented a domestic ban on uranium weapons, a fact that continues to anger Belgian campaigners. It is suspected that the Belgian government is wary of becoming isolated on the issue internationally. Two Nordic states, Denmark and Sweden continue to blow cold, elsewhere in Europe Poland, the Czech Republic, Portugal and Spain are also dragging their feet, in spite of a call for a moratorium and ban by 94% of MEPs earlier this year. Many of the abstainers are recent EU/NATO accession states or ex-Soviet republics such as Kazakhstan.

Australia and Canada, both of whom have extensive uranium mining interests and close ties to US foreign policy also abstained.

The resolution was submitted by Cuba and Indonesia on behalf of the League of Non-Aligned States.

Voting results in full

In favour:

Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Cyprus, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Finland, Germany, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against:

France, Israel, United Kingdom, United States.

Abstain:

Albania, Andorra, Australia, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Micronesia (Federated States of), Palau, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, Ukraine.

Absent: Central African Republic, Chad, China, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Kiribati, Monaco, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia.

Source

Honor Vets by Learning About Depleted Uranium

November 11, 2008

by Barbara Bellows

As Europe mourns in Verdun today for those lost in “The War to End All Wars”, World War I, we could look to another moment in European history to shed light on the most aggressively silenced story of the Bush administration.

In late 2000 and January 2001, reports were exploding across Europe about the rise in cancer amongst NATO soldiers who had served in the “peacekeeping missions” in Bosnia and Kosovo. The effects of the depleted uranium in the U.S. and U.K. weapons could not be ignored.

But history shows that the United Nations and the World Health Organization could be intimidated. The report from the WHO – that detailed how the DU vaporized upon impact into tiny particles that were breathed in, or consumed through the mouth or entered through open wounds, where the irradiating bits attacked cells all the way through the body, causing mutations along the way – was shelved under pressure from the U.S.

Even now, the major U.S. news organizations do not touch the subject, though the international press cannot ignore it. Even last month, a Middle Eastern Reuters reporter discussed the health damages because of the contaminated environment with Iraqi En Iraqi Environment Minister Nermeen Othman,

“When we talk about it, people may think we are overreacting. But in fact the environmental catastrophe that we inherited in Iraq is even worse than it sounds.”

And The Tehran Times further endangers their country by continuing to report on the problem, calling it a war crime.

And across the internet, retired Air Force Lt. Col. Roger Helbig seeks to intimidate anyone who dares to bring up the subject.

But we evolve, and the United Nations First Committee has overwhelmingly passed a resolution, on October 31st, calling for “relevant UN agencies, in this case the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA), World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to update and complete their research into the possible health and environmental impact of the use of uranium weapons by 2010.” The only countries that voted against it were the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel and France.

Meanwhile, to help the reader get to the point, I’ve put together the following.  Although the facts, for the most part, do not contain links, there is a list of the references at the end.

Ten Essential Facts:

1. Depleted uranium, the nuclear waste of uranium enrichment, is not actually “depleted” of radiation; 99.3% of it is Uranium238, which still emits radioactive alpha particles at the rate 12,400/second, with an estimated half life of 4.5 billion years.

2. Depleted uranium is plentiful – there are 7 pounds remaining for every pound of enriched uranium – and requires expensive and often politically-contentious hazardous waste storage.

3. Depleted uranium is less of a problem for the nuclear industry when it is cheaply passed on to U.S. weapons manufacturers for warheads, penetrators, bunker-busters, missiles, armor and other ammunition used by the U.S. military in the Middle East and elsewhere, and sold to other countries and political factions.

4. Depleted uranium is “pyrophoric”, which makes it uniquely effective at piercing hard targets, because upon impact, it immediately burns, vaporizing the majority of its bulk and leaving a hard, thin, sharpened tip – and large amounts of radioactive particles suspended in the atmosphere.

5. Depleted uranium weaponry was first used in the U.S. bombing of Iraq in 1991, under President George H. W. Bush and Defense Secretary Dick Cheney.

6. Depleted uranium weaponry was later used by President Bill Clinton in the NATO “peace-keeping” bombing missions in Bosnia, Kosovo and Serbia. By January 2001, as the 2nd President Bush and Dick Cheney were moving in to the White House, there was a furor in Europe over the news of an alarming increase in leukemia and other cancers amongst the NATO troops who’d served in the Balkans.

7. The World Health Organization suppressed a November 2001 report on the health hazards of depleted uranium by Dr. Keith Baverstock, Head of the WHO’s Radiation Protection Division and his team, commissioned by the United Nations. Baverstock’s report, “Radiological Toxicity of Depleted Uranium”, detailed the significant danger of airborne vaporized depleted uranium particles, already considerably more prevalent in Iraq than the Balkans due to the difference in military tactics, because they are taken into the body by inhaling and ingesting, and then their size and solubility determines how quickly they move through the respiratory, circulatory and gastrointestinal systems, attacking and poisoning from within as they travel, and where the damages occur. In addition, the report warns that the particles tend to settle in the soft tissue of the testes, and may cause mutations in sperm. In 2004 Dr. Baverstock, no longer at the WHO, released the report through Rob Edwards at Scotland’s Sunday Herald.

8. The George W. Bush/Dick Cheney administration twisted the meaning of the failure of the World Health Organization to produce evidence of depleted uranium’s health hazards, turning it into evidence that there was no link between exposure to depleted uranium and the increases in cancer in Europe and Iraq; instead, as presented in the January 20, 2003 report by the new Office of Global Communications, ironically titled Apparatus of Lies: Saddam’s Disinformation and Propaganda 1990 – 2003, the depleted uranium uproar was only an exploitation of fear and suffering. Two months later, Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz-Rice began to “Shock and Awe” Baghdad by again dropping tons of depleted uranium bombs on densely populated areas.

9. On March 27, 2003, significant increases in depleted uranium particles in the atmosphere were detected by the air sampler filter systems of the Atomic Weapons Establishment at 8 different sites near Aldermaston Berkshire, Great Britain, and continued at 4-5 times the previous norm until the end of April 2003, after the Coalition forces declared the war over. This information only came to light in a report on January 6, 2006 by Dr. Chris Busby, due to his diligent fight for access to the data through Britain’s Freedom of Information law.

10. We have a new, intelligent President, who is willing to listen.  It is up to us to bring this to his attention.  THIS IS HOW WE CAN HONOR VETERANS.

VALUABLE REFERENCES:

Department of Defense description of self-sharpening depleted uranium: click here

Dr. Keith Baverstock’s November 2001 report, suppressed by the World Health Organization:
Rob Edwards article on Baverstock:

Karen Parker, a Human Rights and Humanitarian Law Lawyer:  Scroll down on the page and you’ll find her documents on DU.

January 2003 White House Report – Apparatus of Lies:

January 2006 Chris Busby report: click here

Source

Depleated Uranium Information

Or Google it there is tons of information out there.

Be sure to encourage those who are still not supporting the ban,  that it  is something that needs to be banned.

This is an extremely dangerous form of Pollution.

We, the people, need to let governments and the United Nations know that these weapons can have no part in a humane and caring world. Every signature counts!

  1. An immediate end to the use of uranium weapons.
  2. Disclosure of all locations where uranium weapons have been used and immediate removal of the remnants and contaminated materials from the sites under strict control.
  3. Health surveys of the ‘depleted’ uranium victims and environmental investigations at the affected sites.
  4. Medical treatment and compensation for the ‘depleted’ uranium victims.
  5. An end to the development, production, stockpiling, testing, trade of uranium weapons.
  6. A Convention for a Total Ban on Uranium Weapons.

The life you save may be your own.

Sign Petition to Ban DU

Published in: on December 4, 2008 at 1:10 pm  Comments Off on 141 states support Depleted Uranium Ban  
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Landmine Treaty Ignored, 5,400 killed or injured in 2007

November 21 2008
15 countries including Britain will miss their 2009 landmine clearance targets
Greece, Turkey and Belarus continue to violate an international treaty by not destroying their stock of landmines, according to a report that says more than 5,400 people were killed or maimed by landmines last year.

The Landmine Monitor Report released by the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) says that 15 other countries including Britain will miss their 2009 clearance targets.

According to Stuart Casey-Maslen, editor of the Landmine Monitor, “It is not acceptable that [these] countries have failed to clear a single mined area in the last nine years and expect to be granted extensions,” he told reporters ahead of a meeting of the treaty’s 156 signatory states to be held in Geneva next week.

The ICBL report says that anti-personnel mines, cluster munitions and other ordnance can lie dormant for decades before exploding.

While trade in landmines is now virtually non-existent, many countries are moving too slowly to get rid of the crippling weapons, the 1,155-page report said.

The ICBL, which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997, said that while Denmark, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Peru, Britain and Venezuela, are seeking more time to clear their mined areas, de-mining operations should have been finished by now.

But Britain has not even begun mine-sweeping in the Falkland Islands, where it fought a war with Argentina in 1982, while Venezuela has said it gains some benefit from mines that keep Colombian guerrillas off its territory, Casey-Maslen said.

Greece and Turkey have a combined stockpile of 4.2 million anti-personnel mines, and Belarus has 3.4 million yet to be destroyed under the Ottawa Convention, which regulates the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines and monitors their destruction.

Source

A lesson in landmines

IN DEPTH: Landmines


Sad Plight of Landmine Blast Survivors

Uganda, Africa

November 21 2008

Government pledging to help victims, often shunned by friends, families and employers.

By Gloria Laker Aciro in Gulu (AR No. 193, 20-Nov-08)

Irene Laker said she’d had a restless night because her village near Gulu had just been attacked by members of the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army, LRA.

In the morning, she walked out the back of her house. “As I moved, [there was] a big bang. I had stepped on a landmine the rebels had planted at night,” she said, recalling the incident in May 2001 that wrecked her life.

Laker was taken to the local Lacor Hospital, where her leg was amputated. After two months, she was fitted with an artificial limb donated by an Italian organisation.

Over the years, thousands of people in northern Uganda have either been maimed or killed by landmines and other forms of unexploded ordnance such as hand grenades and mortars.

Laker, now 29, said her life was devastated by her injury. The man she was set to marry called off the wedding when he saw her condition in hospital.

Then she said all her good friends deserted her and finally she lost her job.

“Before the accident, I had got a job as secretary in the office of the resident district commissioner. But when I reported for work one day, I was told to leave because I had become disabled,” she said.

Women have been particularly hard hit by the landmine problem, say experts, because they generally are the ones who gather firewood and cultivate gardens.

William Odong, a Gulu district councillor who represents people with disabilities, said women constitute 70 per cent of landmine cases in the north.

“The fact that … women are more engaged in agricultural work, collecting fire wood, and fetching water [puts] them [more] at risk of being hurt,” he told IWPR.

Women with amputated limbs are often shunned by family and friends.

“Most of the women who are victims of landmines have been abandoned by their husbands, who either marry another woman or send them away,” he said.

Small children are also victims of landmines, says Odong, because they accompany their mothers to collect firewood, work in gardens or go to fetch water.

He adds that landmine survivors can also face workplace discrimination because some jobs can’t be performed by the disabled, and some are disqualified simply because of discrimination against amputees.

“People see landmine survivors as a [undesirables] and try not to get close or give them support,” continued Odong. “Unless we move away from this kind of behaviour, the survivors will never be happy.”

Odong was also critical of demining operations which he said wait for people to report suspected landmines rather than go out searching for them.

He says it’s risky to have villagers look for landmines and other unexploded devices – something that should only be handled by experts.

Mark Livingstone, a landmine expert with a Danish de-mining group, said progress has been made to remove these hazards from northern Uganda during the past couple of years.

“We have deployed more men on the ground lately in smaller teams so that they can identify, respond and clear larger areas a lot faster,” he said.

“However, the main threat in northern Uganda is unexploded ordnance, [as] people move back to their villages and start to clear the ground for agriculture.”

More is being done to warn locals of the dangers of landmines and other unexploded devices, he says, through school programmes and local radio.

“We teach them that if they see an object like a landmine, they should mark the area … and quickly report [it], [so we can] move to verify and detonate,” he said.

But, said Livingston, the de-miners fear that in the next year more casualties are likely as people clear more land for cultivation.

Despite the setbacks, life has begun to improve for some landmine victims.

Laker, for example, joined the Gulu-Amuru Association of Landmine Survivors and now works with the organisation as a secretary, helping to set up support projects for victims.

One such project provides small solar panels to victims who live in villages where there is no electricity. The survivors earn money by using the panels to recharge mobile phone batteries.

Association coordinator Stephen Okello, who is also a landmine victim, said others are engaged in bricklaying, pig-raising and poultry projects.

In addition, homes are being built for some victims in Gulu and Amuru – and the first 15 are almost complete, says Okello.

More help may also be coming from the Ugandan government.

Gulu resident district commissioner Walter Ochora says documentation of victims of war who have lost limbs or been mutilated began last year.

“Victims of war including landmine survivors are faced with a number of challenges,” said Ochora. “They are categorised as persons with special needs, and soon all will be compensated by government of Uganda.”

Gloria Laker Aciro is an IWPR-trained reporter.

Source

The Ottawa Treaty (also known as the Convention On The Prohibition Of The Use, Stockpiling, Production And Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines And On Their Destruction) bans the use of anti-personnel mines around the world.

In 1992, Handicap International and five other NGOs, completely appalled by the suffering and the horrifying consequences of the use of anti-personnel mines on civilians, decided to create the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL). For Handicap International, the decision to take part in the creation of ICBL was motivated by the fact that our staff saw daily victims of landmines in countries such as Cambodia or Kosovo.

Three years later, in March 1995, Belgium became the first country to ban anti-personnel landmines. This brave move bya small country was the result of a fruitful cooperation between Handicap International and two visionary members of the Parliament.

By March 1997, 53 countries had announced their support for a total ban on landmines, 28 countries had renounced of suspended the use of mines, and 16 began destroying some of their stockpiles.

By September 16, 1998, the Treaty to Ban Landmines, which had been opened for signature in December 1997, had been ratified by the 40 countries required to make it a binding international convention. The treaty entered into force on 1st March 1999, faster than any international treaty in history. The Treaty:

  • prohibits the manufacture, trade and use of anti-personnel mines
  • obliges countries to destroy stockpiles within 4 years and clear their own territory within 10 years
  • urges governments to help poorer countries clear land and assist landmine victims

The Treaty to Ban Landmines has already had some tangible effects on the production and trade of landmines, even among countries that have not yet signed the treaty. By 1999, only 16 of the original 54 mine-producing countries continued to manufacture anti-personnel landmines or their components, and all traditional exporters of mines, except Iraq, have officially ceased their activities.

As of 20 March 2006, there are 154 signatories/accessions to the Treaty more than two-thirds of the world’s nations. Those who have still not signed include the US, Russia, China, Pakistan, Finland and India.

Map of the countries that signed the Treaty to Ban Landmines


A landmine victim every hour in the world

  1. • Indiscriminate: landmines kill and maim civilians, soldiers, peacekeepers and aid workers alike. Landmines lie dormant in the ground and become a permanent threat to civilians in peacetime.
  2. • Inhumane: It is estimated that there are between 15,000 and 20,000 new casualties every year. Many people die in the fields from lack of emergency care. Those who survive will most likely suffer from amputations, will face long hospital stays and require extensive rehabilitation. Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed or injured in the last decades.
  3. • Development disaster: landmines deprive people in some of the poorest countries of land and infrastructure. Landmines also hold up the return of refugees and displaced people. They hamper reconstruction and the delivery of aid, whilst killing livestock and wrecking the environment.
  4. • Landmines are everywhere: 84 countries and 8 territories are affected in the world. Afghanistan, Angola, Bosnia, Cambodia, Chechnya and Iraq are some of the worst affected countries.
  5. • Still work to be done: Landmines are still being planted today and minefields dating back decades continue to lie in wait of innocent victims. Over 10 countries are still producing landmines.


Source

War “Pollution” Equals Millions of Deaths

Published in: on November 24, 2008 at 1:44 am  Comments Off on Landmine Treaty Ignored, 5,400 killed or injured in 2007  
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Belarus threatens to quit IMF

November 16 2008
Cash-strapped Belarus has said it may turn its back on the International Monetary Fund if the organization refuses to give it a US$ 2 billion loan.

The hard-line President of the former Soviet state, Aleksandr Lukashenko, issued the warning in an interview to the Wall Street Journal, which was broadcast on Belarusian TV on Friday.

“We survived without IMF loans before, during the severest of times” he said. “If they deny it now, we will build our co-operation with the IMF accordingly”.

This means the country would likely to sever ties with the IMF, often described as the international lender of last resort.
“I have told the government and the chairman of the National Bank that if they don’t help us in our situation – which is not as bad as in other countries to which they [the IMF] give loans – why should we co-operate?” Lukashenko said.

The hard-line leader added that as a member of the IMF, Belarus had regularly contributed money to the fund and taken part in its meetings.

“So what for do we need it all, if we are treated like this?” the Belarusian president concluded.

Published in: on November 17, 2008 at 7:09 am  Comments Off on Belarus threatens to quit IMF  
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Prime Minister’s plea on oil prices as he tours the Middle East to secure IMF funding

By Nigel Morris

November 1 2008

Gordon Brown flies out to the Gulf today on a mission to persuade the region’s oil-rich states to help combat the global economic meltdown.

He is expected to meet the leaders of Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and ask them to pump billions of pounds into the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which is struggling to cope with pleas for help from countries facing collapse in their financial system.

The Prime Minister will also urge them not to cut production in an effort to reverse the slide in oil prices over the past month. The size of the challenge facing the British economy was underlined on the eve of the tour, as Mr Brown was warned that levels of debt and borrowing will climb higher than during the last recession in the early 1990s.

A report by the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies concluded that the Government was going into the recession with a “significantly higher” level of debt than in 1990. Even excluding the cost of nationalising Northern Rock, public sector net debt is due to reach 39.7 per cent of gross domestic product this year and is “very likely” to rise above 46.2 per cent within the next couple of years.

The Prime Minister has sought to emphasise the “global” nature of the economic downturn. Ahead of his latest trip abroad he signalled fears that the $250bn (£155bn) fund available to the IMF to help fragile economies might not be enough to cope with the extent of global downturn. Hungary, Iceland and Ukraine have already agreed emergency loans, while other countries queuing up for help include Belarus, Turkey and – critically for regional security – Pakistan.

Mr Brown believes the IMF’s coffers should be topped up by the rapidly-growing economies of the Gulf region, whose revenues have soared as fuel prices leapt this year. He is also targeting China, which is sitting on large reserves of capital.

The extra cash required by the IMF to counter the international turbulence could amount to hundreds of billions of dollars. But Mr Brown will probably run into opposition in the region, whose leaders have already expressed dismay that they are being asked to tackle a problem that has its roots in the turmoil in the American sub-prime mortgage market.

The Prime Minister will also express his opposition to the decision of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to cut output from today by 1.5 million barrels a day.

The Gulf nations, which produce more than half of the world’s oil, have seen the price of a barrel fall from a high of $147 (£91) in July to below $65 yesterday. The Prime Minister’s spokesman said yesterday: “We recognise over that over the long-term global demand for oil is increasing, so over the long-term price is likely to increase. But what we want to avoid is the sharp increases we have seen in recent months.” Mr Brown is also planning to renew his call on the Gulf states to invest in renewable energy technology.

He is being accompanied by Peter Mandelson, the Business Secretary, and Ed Miliband, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, and more than 20 business leaders.

During a visit to Edinburgh yesterday, Mr Brown said low interest rates and falling inflation, along with lower national debt than other countries, would help Britain survive the turbulence. “It is the first global crisis that we are having to deal with in this new industrial age where so much is global. I am confident that the opportunities for our economy are great in the years to come.”

The shadow Chancellor, George Osborne, yesterday accused the Prime Minister of trying to “spend his way out of recession” at the risk of exacerbating the downturn and saddling future generations with huge tax increases to combat rising national debt.

In a speech drawing dividing lines between Conservative and Labour approaches to the economic crisis, he denounced Mr Brown as irresponsible for suggesting that the Government can “borrow without limit” to stave off recession.

He said the policy of borrowing more to pay for a state “spending splurge” was “a cruise missile aimed at the heart of the economy”, which could require tax rises equivalent to 4p on income tax. But he was attacked by Labour and Liberal Democrat opponents for being “confused” and “out of his depth” in his analysis.

The credit crisis: Latest developments

*PM to urge Gulf states not to cut oil production as Opec reduces output by 1.5 million barrels a day

*Osborne accuses Brown of trying to ‘spend his way out of a recession’

*Barclays to take £7.3bn from investors in Abu Dhabi and Qatar in bid to maintain bonus packages

*Investors in the Middle East could end up owning as much as one-third of banking giant’s shares

Source

Published in: on November 1, 2008 at 4:03 pm  Comments Off on Prime Minister’s plea on oil prices as he tours the Middle East to secure IMF funding  
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Europe’s ‘last dictator’ set to reap rewards for courting the West

By Daniel McLaughlin in Minsk
Saturday, 27 September 2008

Relatives of Belarus’s disappeared dissidents, and beleaguered opposition parties, warn that the EU and US may temper criticism of a tightly-controlled general election in an attempt to woo President Alexander Lukashenko away from traditional ally Russia.

Belarus goes to the polls this weekned in an election that could see the West normalise its relations with the man dubbed “Europe’s last dictator”.

Keen to loosen Moscow’s grip on its neighbours after the war in Georgia, Brussels and Washington have discussed easing sanctions if the ballot is more free and fair than the others he has overseen during 14 years in power.

“Under the surface this election is as bad as the rest,” said Mrs Gonchar, who works for an opposition party. “If the West compromises with Lukashenko, it will be a very dangerous mistake.” Viktor Gonchar, a prominent critic of Mr Lukashenko, disappeared with businessman and ally Anatoly Krasovsky on 16 September 1999, after a visit to a sauna in the Belarusian capital, Minsk. Four months earlier in the city, Yuri Zakharenko, a former interior minister and leading Lukashenko opponent, vanished on his way home. In July 2000, the President’s former personal cameraman, Dmitry Zavadsky, went missing.

Belarus’ state security service, still called the KGB, claims to have investigated the fates of the men, to no avail.

However, two ex-KGB officers who fled to the US say the men were killed by a death squad created by officials close to Mr Lukashenko, who denies involvement in their disappearance.

“Zakharenko and Gonchar had the charisma, ability and popularity to be a serious threat to Lukashenko, and as a businessman Krasovsky could help them do it,” explained Oleg Volchak, a former police investigator and lawyer who has studied the case.

Regularly lambasted for fixing elections, harassing critics and crushing the media, Mr Lukashenko caught the eye of Western diplomats last month by resisting Russian pressure to recognise the rebel Georgian regions Abkhazia and South Ossetia and freeing three opponents from jail.

“This election is unprecedentedly free, run according to the rules of the West,” Mr Lukashenko said, before declaring: “If even this time the elections turn out to be ‘undemocratic’, we will halt discussions with the West.”

As proof of progress, Mr Lukashenko cites the 70 or so opposition candidates on the ballot and the presence of more than 450 observers from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe. The OSCE has criticised a paucity of media coverage for opponents of the regime, and parties critical of the President say their members are harassed, unfairly excluded from the ballot, prevented from holding effective meetings and denied access to the commissions that oversee the count.

An EU diplomat said sanctions could be eased next month if the election goes well, potentially allowing Belarus to benefit from the European Neighbourhood Policy, which offers funding and trade opportunities to non-members.

“There is realism that these elections will not be the acme of democracy,” the diplomat said. “But the EU response can be calibrated to reflect levels of freeness and fairness – as in how many officials come off the banned visa list and which benefits from the European Neighbourhood Policy are released.”

Such a scenario appals Aliaksandr Atroshchankau, an opposition activist.

“The EU can’t lift sanctions just as they start to deliver results,” he said.

“Rather than recognising rigged elections, the EU should push for talks between Lukashenko and the opposition. If the West says this farcical vote is good enough, Lukashenko will never change.”

The Independent

Published in: on September 28, 2008 at 5:57 am  Comments Off on Europe’s ‘last dictator’ set to reap rewards for courting the West  
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