Negotiations ended on 27 July 2012 without a final document. Read what happened and what is required to reach an agreement.
The international community is negotiating a legally binding treaty on trade in conventional weapons. The World Council of Churches is leading an interfaith campaign in an effort to reduce the suffering caused by weapons. An update on the campaign reports on church action in the preparation for the final negotiations in July. Invite your church leader to sign up to the interfaith declaration.
Peace Movement Aotearoa and the Aotearoa New Zealand Cluster Munition Coalition to which CWS belong have questioned the government's decision to disestablish the position of the Minister of Disarmament and Arms Control. The responsibility has been allocated to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Murray McCully. On 11 April 2012 the Dominion Post published an Opinion written by Mary Wareham and Angela Woodward calling for greater commitment to disarmament. You may like to write to the Prime Minister or Minister of Foreign Affairs telling them what you think.
Join the action on Wednesday, April 4, the International Day for Mine Action and Mine Awareness. CWS is a member of the NZ Campaign against Land Mines which is inviting you to roll up your trousers in solidarity with land mine survivors and support the call for a mine free world. If you are in Wellington, join the leg display outside Parliament at 1pm. More details on this action and ideas for what to do are here. Can you organise an event in your community? Or support landmine clearance in Cambodia by making a donation.
“My sister was killed when she stepped on a land mine while herding cattle and my brother met a similar end while catching fish in a rice paddy. I have lost two brothers and one sister within just five years! My parents don't understand why all this had to happen to their children and they often blame themselves for it.”
Ling Phanh, a resident of Nipeach village, Cambodia.
The legacy of landmines is long lasting. The fear of injury or death is always present but the contaminated land stops development. Once the land is cleared Cambodians can grow food, build schools, clinics and water ponds. Until a few years ago land clearance was a major part of the Church World Service Cambodia programme, helping to identify contaminated land and setting up local trained teams to clear it. With less funding the work has diminished. Church World Service Cambodia works with these communities to make best use of the cleared land so that they can feed and care for themselves with confidence.
Cambodia has a reputation as one of the most heavily mined countries in the world. The landmines continue to kill. In 2009 they injured or killed 243 people, many times less than during the civil war. At the same time Chivv Lim who heads the office collating the relevant statistics reported that over 63,000 people had been killed or injured by landmines since 1979, the end of the Khmer Rouge government. The end of the civil war, a strong educational and awareness focus and demining operations have all helped to improve the situation.
By the end of 2009 600 square kilometres still needed to be cleared. Declining funds have meant that this work will still take some time. Once the land is cleared, people can reclaim it for farming the food that they need. Cambodia has been granted a ten year extension on its commitments under the UN convention banning landmines to complete the task (to 2019). Government and nongovernmental groups like Church World Service Cambodia have less money to do this vital work. More help is needed to make the country safe for its people. Read more about Church World Service Cambodia's demining work.
Help Ban Cluster Bombs
CWS is a member of the Aotearoa/New Zealand Cluster Munition Coalition, part of a global movement calling for a total ban of cluster munitions.
Cluster munitions, also called cluster bombs, are now the conventional weapons that pose the gravest danger to civilian populations. They can be fired from air or land-based artillery and then fragment into small bomblets – sometimes hundreds of submunitions. They spread indiscriminately over a large uncontrollable area and are unable to distinguish between military targets and civilians.
The Aotearoa New Zealand Cluster Munition Coalition - www.stopclusterbombs.org.nz - is part of the global Cluster Munition Coalition - www.stopclustermunitions.org - an international network of over 200 organisations in 50 countries working together to pressure governments to conclude an international treaty banning cluster munitions.
Avaaz, the global campaigning organisation, has launched an online petition to help us in our campaign against the introduction of a new law on cluster bombs being negotiated in Geneva from 14 November 2011 at the 4th Review Conference on the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW).
Sign the petition now to send a clear message to world leaders: We will not stand for the introduction of a weak new law which could lead to an increase in the use of cluster munitions, by giving countries like the United States, China and Russia the legal cover they seek to use them. A treaty comprehensively banning cluster munitions already exists and states should stand strong to uphold the standards of the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions during negotiations next week.
Help ban cluster munitions. The Aotearoa New Zealand Cluster Munition Coalition provides regular actions that you can take to ban cluster munitions. See http://www.stopclusterbombs.org.nz/take-action