Certains jovialistes nous reprocheraient de ne pas mentionner « la bonne nouvelle » de la ratification du traité des bombes à sous-munitions (sept ans après sa signature !) par le gouvernement canadien, cette semaine (English follows) : le Canada devient ainsi le 90e état membre de la convention contre les armes à sous-munition ou cluster bombs, abondamment utilisées par exemple par Tsahal au Liban en 2006, par les militaires américains au Kosovo et en Afghanistan, récemment en Ukraine et en Syrie. On se réjouit certes que le Canada ait détruit son propre stock de bombes à sous-munitions en juin 2014 en vue de son adhésion au traité. Hélas, les Conservateurs ont inséré une clause empoisonnée à leur ratification. Le site des APLP vous avait informés en janvier 2014 que le Parlement débattait de la position conservatrice insérant des clauses permettant à l’armée canadienne de multiples exceptions à l’interdiction de faire usage de ces engins (tous les partis d’opposition s’y sont objectés). On rappelle qu’au moment de leur impact, ces engins dispersent des mini-bombes, souvent aux apparences de jouets qui se répandent sur les villes bombardées, pour ensuite exploser au visage ou arracher les mains des enfants évidemment attirés par ces petits objets. Charmant, ce monsieur Harper, on vous le disait… lui et ses amis chrétiens évangéliques qui viennent de voter une loi en Indiana qui pourrait empêcher les boulangers, les vendeurs d’autos etc. de vendre leur pain et leurs voitures aux vilains homosexuels, les mêmes partisans de la victoire mondiale à tout prix du Christ-Roi. N’oublions jamais que parmi les jeunes dont M. Harper a le plus favorisé l’ascension sociale, on trouve le colonel psychopathe Russell Williams et le sénateur Patrick Brazeau (qui au moins n’a encore tué personne)! Les Artistes pour la Paix admirent plutôt le travail sans relâche de HANDICAP international (les photos proviennent de leur site) qui fournit des prothèses aux victimes. Comme d’habitude, les Américains mus par le human interest et aussi par le désir de leurs médecins d’expérimenter des interventions et leurs sociétés pharmaceutiques de tester leurs nouveaux produits appuient au premier rang les efforts humanitaires, mais hélas sans remettre en question la source militariste du problème : les USA sont parmi les 17 pays (Russie, Chine, Israël, Turquie, Égypte…) qui fabriquent ces engins et n’ont ni signé ni ratifié la Convention. Voici l’opinion d’un expert, M. Earl Turcotte, avec sa permission accordée avec enthousiasme le 27 mars dernier depuis Ottawa où il habite, suivie d’un court article par notre ami Robin Collins:
Canada in Breach of Its Obligations under the Convention on Cluster Munitions
Canada recently submitted its Instrument of Ratification of the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) to the Secretary General of the United Nations and on September 1, 2015 will become the 90th State Party to this historic disarmament treaty. That’s the good news. The bad news is that Canada will be in immediate violation of several critically important provisions of the Convention and subject to international censure for non-compliance. Like many around the world, I was delighted when in 2007 Norway initiated a process to ban cluster munitions whose victims have overwhelmingly been civilian – mostly poor farmers and children – and was deeply honoured to be chosen to lead Canada’s delegation throughout the process. Negotiations were extremely difficult. Of 108 participating states, Canada was among a group of 20 NATO allies and a few others that sought explicit provision in the Convention for continued joint military operations with non-party States. Our chief concern was to preserve military ‘interoperability’ with the United States that refused to participate in negotiations, while still fully supporting the ban on cluster munitions. We succeeded in gaining the agreement of all negotiating states by making it clear that continued joint military operations with States not party in no way allowed States Parties to aid and abet in the use of cluster munitions. Indeed, Article 21 concerning Relations With States Not Party to the Convention, most of which I personally drafted, goes further and imposes positive obligations on States Parties to “make best efforts to discourage States not party to this Convention from using cluster munitions”— and “to encourage States not party to ratify, accept, approve or accede to this Convention, with the goal of attracting the adherence of all States to this Convention.” The result of the collective work of all negotiating states, with tremendous support from UN agencies, the International Committee of the Red Cross and civil society, is a world-class, legally-binding Convention that bans for all time more than 200 different types of cluster munitions, requires the destruction of stockpiles and the clearance of explosive cluster munition remnants that continue to kill and dismember so many throughout the world. I was immensely proud of the active role Canada played during negotiations and to be present when Canada was among the first of more than 100 countries to sign the Convention in Oslo in 2008.
My pride was short-lived. To say that the Department of National Defense had been a reluctant participant in this undertaking would be a gross understatement. A book could be written about the pitched battles that took place inter-departmentally over a five-year period, prior to, during and following negotiations. At different times, I was accused by individuals from DND of being an agent of “the NGOs” and of trying to undermine Canada’s privileged and “unique” military relationship with the United States. There were a few occasions during negotiations when I honestly thought that DND members of my delegation and I might literally come to blows. This was about the time that one said to me, “Make no mistake. Canada will aid and abet in the use of cluster munitions if we have to, no matter what you negotiate!” – Let’s hope these words were not prophetic. No sooner had negotiations concluded and I had formally endorsed the final text of the Convention on behalf of Canada with full support of the Prime Minister’s Office, that DND began to backpedal by proposing an interpretation – rather ‘misinterpretation,’ in my view – of the article on ‘interoperability’, and to lobby to have their position reflected in Canada’s ratification legislation. Three years later DND prevailed and the Department of Foreign Affairs was ordered to stand down. I issued a conscientious objection and resigned in protest. This freed me to advocate publicly on the matter. I was among many highly critical witnesses to testify during hearings of the Commons and Senate Committees considering the draft legislation. Alas, Bill C-6 was passed into Canadian law, virtually unchanged. So here we are. Canada is about to become a State Party to a remarkable Convention that legally binds States Parties, without reservation, “to undertake never under any circumstances to:
- Use cluster munitions;
- Develop, produce, otherwise acquire, stockpile, retain or transfer to anyone, directly or indirectly, cluster munitions; and
- Assist, encourage or induce anyone to engage in any activity prohibited to a State Party under this Convention.”
Yet Canada’s corresponding legislation – Bill C-6 – includes “exceptions” that allow:
- A Canadian commander of a multinational force to direct or authorize non-party State forces to use, acquire, possess import or export cluster munitions;
- Canadian forces to expressly request the use of cluster munitions by non-party States;
- Canadian pilots or artillery personnel to acquire, possess or move cluster munitions while on secondment or attachment to non-party state forces;
- Canadian Forces to transport non-party State cluster munitions on Canadian carriers, and
- Canadian forces to “aid, abet, conspire, counsel and assist non-party State forces to carry out or escape from acts prohibited to States Parties” under the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
The dissonance between the obligations of States Parties under the Convention on Cluster Munitions on one hand and the license granted to Canadian Armed Forces under Bill C-6 is shocking! This Bill is far and away the worst of its kind in the world and – in my considered view – will render Canada noncompliant with the Convention the moment it enters into force for Canada on 1 September. Canada will be held to account and subject to further, much deserved criticism by other State Parties, the International Committee of the Red Cross, UN agencies and civil society. I suspect this will be of little concern to the Harper government. After all, this is the government that has refused to sign the Arms Trade Treaty, has increased Canadian arms exports dramatically since coming to power, including a recent $15 billion sale to Saudi Arabia, stands in the way of international efforts to ban nuclear weapons and has little regard for peace-keeping and other forms of cooperative multilateralism in which Canada used to excel. I remain profoundly hopeful that a new, progressive government will amend this abysmal cluster munitions legislation and undertake other measures to restore Canada’s position of respect in the world. Earl Turcotte Director of the Mine Action Team of DFAIT 2005-2011 email@example.com
Robin Collins du Mouvement Fédéraliste Mondial écrit pour sa part dans le Ottawa citizen:
« There was no joy in Mudville when Canada this week implemented the cluster munitions treaty. The single compromise the government made during hearings (removal of the word “using” in the draft bill) was not sufficient because Canada does not own cluster munitions, and we have never used them. The concern was always with our relationship with our ally, the United States, which stands outside the treaty.
The caveats to the law that were added do not make cluster bomb use “even more unlikely” as is speculated. They specifically allow Canadian troops to enable and encourage the United States to use cluster bombs during combined operations. That is hypocritical and legally dubious. All the opposition parties in Canada, to their credit, voted against the bill because of these fatal flaws.
Our reputation as authors of the Ottawa landmine treaty, and as defenders of victims of indiscriminate weapons, has been damaged. »
Robin Collins, Ottawa, Secretary, World Federalist Movement — Canada