01 May, 2011

Interoperability and lawlessness - the Cluster Bomb Treaty

The Australian government signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 3 December 2008. It was in the process of ratification of the treaty. It did take submissions that were supposed to help shape this as an Australian law as the Criminal Code Amendment (Cluster Munitions Prohibition) Bill 2010, but then Washington intervened and ... this is what we get:

Labor foiled bomb treaty

Philip Dorling

May 2, 2011


We must do more to help rid the world of these foul weapons

Paul Barratt

May 2, 2011


My response to this travesty:

Dear (Senator Scott Ludlam's office)

Thank you. My thoughts exactly, and I am with you and with Scott in being outraged by this abominable anti-democratic behaviour by the Rudd/Gillard government(s). How much worse off would we be with Tony Abbott? It couldn't get much worse, could it!

Thank you for this very strong statement. It is good to see that the Greens are really the Greens and standing up for democracy, the rule of law, peace and nonviolence and the independent foreign policy that I wanted to see when I helped to write the Greens foreign policy in 2006-2007. I want this statement to publicly put the Gillard government on notice with all the Greens parliamentary team solidly behind it, that we are profoundly offended by their scurrilous and anti-democratic betrayal.

I do not use the word betrayal lightly or as a wounded victim, or in some quaint 19th century sentimental sense of this word. I was one of the people who submitted to the inquiry a well-reasoned argument why the ratification should be done according to the intent of the treaty, the good intentions of other signatories and morally defensible in the international community. My submission was written in Costa Rica, without any input by others, yet on almost every point it was in agreement with all other submissions. My submission and others that I have read were written in good faith that the democratic process would enable the committee to give fair consideration to all of the submissions, that a rational, evidence-based process would take place, that we are all stakeholders in the good reputation that our nation has in the international community. The decision that the Gillard government has made makes Australia a pariah state without the consent of the Australian community.

Yet we find, with the fortuitous help of WikiLeaks, because the Australian government would not have told us voluntarily, that the committee wilfully ignored all of the available evidence in the large number of submissions that they were presented with, in favour of the views of a foreign power, namely the United States of America, a party that was not openly a stakeholder at the table, not part of a democratic parliamentary process and not Australian. This betrayal is a profound betrayal of the democratically elected Australian parliament and all of its instruments, a failure to respect those who are truly stakeholders and a betrayal of the sovereignty of Australia as an independent nation. Seeking to conspire with other nations to undermine and sabotage an international treaty is a betrayal of the most profound kind, an unconscionable act of deceit.

Furthermore, this betrayal is a profound act of contempt for the lives of members of the Australian armed forces and their forebears, who the Prime Minister and all previous Prime Ministers claim so frequently that they admire and support. This is the final proof that their claim is false. This government is intentionally undermining the morality and dignity of members of the armed forces of this country by contriving with a foreign power to oblige these servants of the government to violate the treaty they so recently signed and went through the motions of ratifying. No wonder our soldiers are conflicted when they are supposed to be serving us and when they find they are required to perform so many tasks that are morally equivocal and not in the best collective interests of Australians. There is nothing that more endangers the lives of Australian soldiers and civilians than being confronted by opponents who don't respect the rules of war, because we are known not to respect these rules either.

What I also want to draw attention to in this context is the recent Canberra Times article by David Ellery on Agent Orange, a matter which I believe further demonstrates that the Australian government pays more attention to the requirements of Washington than they do to their own veterans, some of whom are suffering the effects of Agent Orange, as are their children. Agent Orange is an egregious genocidal weapon with inferred effects of causing inter-generational collective punishment on the children of Indochina, who have never been a threat to Australians and who are no longer regarded as our enemies, yet we refuse to compensate them or our own soldiers. It is time for the nonsense of secrecy to be discarded and all relevant documents be made available to the Australian public, enabling this painful a shameful episode be put to rights. It is untenable that the Australian government goes along with the charade played by the US government with their veterans in order to stay in step with Washington's wishes.

Vietnam veterans at war with historians


27 Apr, 2011 04:00 AM


Please get back to me about this letter.

Willy Bach

Greens member
Author of one of the submissions of the ratification of the cluster bomb treaty
UQ School of History research student
Veteran of the CIA's Secret War in Laos


Blogger biginabox said...

How many cluster bombs do you think Gadaffi has at his disposal? And since he has no scruples about using them on innocent unarmed civilians, what is the problem with using superior, cleaner technology such as drones to destroy his launch sites?
I don't see the dilemma. Legally, morally or financially.

3:20 AM  

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