This week’s guest writer is Erin Hunt, Programme Coordinator at Mines Action Canada (MCC is a member) and a Senior Researcher on Victim Assistance for the Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor. Originally from Victoria, BC, she holds an M.A. in Human Security from Royal Roads University and has been involved in campaigns to ban landmines and cluster munitions since 2003.
Canada has finally ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions and totally banned these inhumane weapons. After signing the Convention on Cluster Munitions in December 2008, Canada ratified the Convention in March of this year. It will be fully bound by the provisions of the Convention on September 1, 2015.
At Mines Action Canada, we are still concerned about the national legislation used to implement the Convention on Cluster Munitions. The two and a half year long process to pass this legislation is indicative of the importance of the Convention and the widespread concern about loopholes in the legislation known as Bill C-6.
We had the pleasure of working closely with MCC staff and other campaigners to push Canada to fix the loopholes. And we were pleased to see the government make a small amendment to the legislation before passing the bill. That small amendment did not fix all of the problems but it was a victory nonetheless, demonstrating that ordinary people can influence policy and strengthen Canada’s position against an inhumane weapon.
Now that Canada has ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions some people may think our work is done. But a good deal more work remains. One of the biggest issues that Canadians can assist with is investment in cluster munition producers.
The 2014 report “Worldwide Investments in Cluster Munitions; a shared responsibility”, authored by Dutch peace organization PAX, shows that 151 financial institutions around the world invested US $27 billion in the seven cluster munitions producers identified in the research. Two of these financial institutions are from Canada.
The government frequently said that Canada’s national legislation to implement the ban on cluster munitions outlawed investment, but the language is not clear. Without strong language in the legislation, it is up to us as clients to ensure that Canadian financial institutions do not invest our money in cluster munition producers. Now is the time to contact your financial institution and ask them to outline their policy regarding cluster munitions.
Financial institutions listen to their clients. This spring, NEI Investments and Desjardins announced they have banned investments in cluster munitions producers. Both financial institutions already had cluster munitions policies in place for specific funds and have now extended that exclusion to all products, according to the financial companies. We hope that with your help we will see more Canadian financial institutions following this example over the next few months.
This September the First Review Conference of the Convention on Cluster Munitions will take place in Dubrovnik, Croatia. The Review Conference will mark the 5th anniversary of the Convention on Cluster Munitions becoming international law. States parties to the Convention will gather in Dubrovnik to assess progress over the past five years and to plan for the future of the convention. Civil society will be there pushing governments to live up to their obligations under the treaty to clear land, destroy stockpiles, assist victims and universalize the ban.
That meeting will highlight some of the many successes of the Convention. We hope that one of those successes will be the end of Canadian investment in cluster munition producers. By drying up the financial support for the production of cluster munitions, we can help create a world free of these horrific and banned weapons.