Convention on Cluster Munitions: Handicap International is concerned about Canada's position

MONTREAL, April 5 /CNW Telbec/ - Following the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action, and in light of recent remarks made by Earl Turcotte, Canada's former chief negotiator on disarmament issues, Handicap International expresses its concerns over Canada's position regarding the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM).

More than two years after signing the Convention on Cluster Munitions (also known as the Oslo Treaty), after the government repeatedly insisting on its intention to ratify it, and in light of concerns raised by Mr. Earl Turcotte regarding Canada's stance, Handicap International is concerned about how Canada will interpret key elements of the treaty prohibiting the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of cluster munitions. Mr. Turcotte declared in a recent interview that Canada was leaning towards an interpretation of article 21 (Cf. in regards to interoperability) that would enable the use of cluster munitions during joint operations with non-signatory states.

Handicap International is calling on all signatory states to act on their legal obligation to put the treaty into effect and to promote its principles, notably in persuading non-signatory states to discontinue the use of cluster munitions, as stipulated in article 2.1 of the Convention.

With the election campaign underway, Handicap International is asking all political parties to take a firm stance on the issue and to work with the future government so as to enable the ratification and the faithful application of the Oslo Treaty, one in which the use of cluster munitions is strictly banned.

"A Canadian interpretation of the treaty that would permit assistance to other countries in the use of these indiscriminate and barbaric weapons would be that much more inacceptable coming from Canada, once the world leader in the fight against landmines", claims Christian Champigny, Interim Director at Handicap International Canada before adding that "Over 500,000 persons have survived the explosion of a landmine or an explosive remnant of war (ERW). They need lifetime assistance, access to healthcare, socio-economic reinsertion. Their families and communities also need support".

Handicap International urges Canada to assume the same leadership role with cluster munitions as it did with landmines.

About Handicap International: Handicap International is an independent international aid organization working in situations of poverty and exclusion, conflict and disaster. We work alongside people with disabilities and vulnerable populations, taking action and raising awareness in order to respond to their essential needs, improve their living conditions and promote respect for their dignity and fundamental rights.

Handicap International is a co-laureate of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize and a founding member of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. Since its beginnings in 1982, the organisation has gone on to work in over 60 countries worldwide and our work has benefited several million people in that time. For more information, please visit: www.handicap-international.ca

SOURCE HANDICAP INTERNATIONAL

For further information:

Khoudia Ndiaye, (514) 908 2813 ext.227; khoudia.ndiaye@handicap-international.ca

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