Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Cons delay cluster bomb treaty to please U.S.

Canadian ex-arms negotiator breaks silence with concerns about cluster bomb treaty

The Canadian Press: Canadian troops could be complicit in the deaths of innocent civilians if the government proceeds with weak recommendations in the international treaty to ban cluster munitions, says Canada's former lead negotiator. Earl Turcotte resigned last month from Foreign Affairs after nearly 30 years in the public service, the last decade of which was dedicated to disarmament issues.

Turcotte broke his silence and told The Canadian Press... that he was removed as the government's chief negotiator in part because he ran afoul of his superiors after senior U.S. officials complained he was too aggressive in cluster bomb treaty negotiations. Turcotte also registered a 'conscientious objection' to his bosses on how the government had planned to interpret a key provision of the Convention on Cluster Munitions -- Article 21.

The provision covers joint operations between countries such as Canada, which are expected to ratify the treaty, and countries that will not -- specifically, the United States... Turcotte said the true intent of the section is being subverted and would essentially 'aid and abet' the continued use of cluster bombs... 'Canada could be in part responsible for more civilian deaths because of the use of this weapon. That's just, to me, morally and legally unacceptable. I simply couldn't live with myself if I allow this go through unchallenged.'...

Canada was one of 108 countries to sign the cluster bomb treaty in December 2008, and it went into effect in August 2010 after being ratified by more than 50 countries. But critics say the government is dragging its heels on tabling legislation in Parliament that would ratify the treaty, unlike its speedy adoption of the Ottawa Treaty to ban landmines in the late 1990s.

Tucrotte said... 'In the inter-departmental debate, DND has prevailed. I think that they have gone too far and I believe they have done so largely to preserve what they consider to be the unique relationship that the Canadian military enjoys with the U.S. military. And I think they have been unduly influenced by their desire.'
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