Cluster bomb casualties double

The annual report from the Cluster Munition Coalition shows that casualties from cluster munitions, internationally outlawed munitions that kill indiscriminantly, more than doubled in 2016 compared with the previous year. Most of the increase was attributed to the war in Syria, where the government’s forces began using the weapons in July 2016 with Russia’s support.

Source: Reaching Critical Will, Sept. 2017.

Explosive Violence in 2017

Explosive violence can be prevented by prohibiting the transfer of arms to those who bomb towns and cities. Although the Arms Trade Treaty entered into force three years ago, some states still prefer to make money with arms sales. In the first half of 2017 there was an 186% increase in civilian casualties from state explosive violence since 2016. This is a 261% increase since 2011.

Global Affairs Canada has agreed to investigate reports that Canadian-made military equipment is being used to suppress protest in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province. This investigation is slow in coming, for it has been apparent that there are serious risks of such uses, but such equipment was allowed to be sold.

Source: Action on Armed Violence and Reaching Critical Will, Sept. 2017.

Cyber Experts Deadlocked

Discussions aiming to develop a universal framework for behavior in cyberspace fell apart in June at the final meeting of a group of governmental experts. They had been meeting over the last two years, building on work begun by earlier groups over a decade ago.

Talks reportedly broke down around the principle of self-defence and the applicability of international law in cyberspace. A small group of states (China, Cuba, and Russia) expressed concern that the breakdown would affirm the militarization of cyberspace, while others—mainly Western states—disagreed.

Source: Reaching Critical Will, Sept. 2017.

September: Signing of Ban Treaty begins at UN

The new Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, was adopted in July, with the favorable votes of 122 nations. On September 20, the signing ceremony will be held at the United Nations in New York during the UN General Assembly’s high level segment. Heads of state and other high level officials will have an opportunity to represent their governments in the ceremony.

The treaty has stimulated so me new debates between its supporters and those who continue maintaining that their security depends on deterrence. For example, Sweden’s foreign minister, Margot Wallstrom, has indicated that her government will sign the treaty on September 20.

In response, US Secretary of Defence James Mattis has reportedly warned that if Sweden does so, it risks reduced military cooperation with the US and a lower chance of assistance in the event of an attack. Sweden is not a member of NATO.

Nuclear weapons also has become a live issue during the elections in Germany. Martin Schultz of the centre-left Social Democratic Party has promised to remove 20 US nuclear warheads—kept in his country under NATO auspices—if elected chancellor. In this he opposed Angela Merkel and her conservative Christian Democratic Union party.

Schultz referred to President Trump’s conflict with North Korea, saying that it “shows us more than ever before how urgently we need to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons and encourage disarmament.” However, Schultz was far behind in the polls as of early September.

Sources: Reaching Critical Will, Sept. 2017 and Los Angeles Times, August 23, 2017.

Denmark helps counter famine in Africa

The government of Denmark has contributed US $10.7 million to the UN World Food Programme to assist hungry people in South Sudan and countries hit by drought in the Horn of Africa—Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya. It is feeding refugees from South Sudan who have fled into Uganda.

It is also helping to rehabilitate a supply road in Sudan to supply aid to 250,000 refugees and local people.

Source: The Sunflower.

Tony de Brum Dies

The former foreign minister of the Marshall Islands, Tony de Brum, has died. In his area of the Pacific the US conducted the equivalent of 1.6 Hiroshima blasts every day for 12 years. At age nine, he witnessed the Castle Bravo test. In 2014 he sued the nine nuclear nations, demanding that they comply with the NPT. The cases were dismissed but De Brum became a role model for all courageous activists, and we are grateful for his life.

Peace Magazine Oct-Dec 2017

Peace Magazine Oct-Dec 2017, page 2. Some rights reserved.

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