Churches welcome Government’s new stance on cluster munitions

By staff writers
May 29, 2008

The Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church have welcomed the commitment by the UK Government to withdraw the remaining two cluster munitions from its arsenal.

The news came as talks took place in Dublin, in which governments drafted the text for a treaty to ban the use of cluster bombs.

The churches have for some time joined with others in campaigning for a full global ban on cluster munitions.

In 2004, Pope, John Paul II urged the destruction of landmine stockpiles and called on nations including China, Russia, India and the US to adhere to the 1997 Ottowa Convention to ban them. In 2006 the Vatican's permanent observer to the United Nations called for a specific moratorium on cluster bombs.

Last year - the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the Mine Ban Treaty - the Methodist Church, the United Reformed Church and the Baptist Union of Great Britain all called on the UK Government to end the use of cluster bombs by UK forces.

Today they issued a joint statement welcoming the outcome of the Dublin summit.

Graham Sparkes, Head of Faith & Unity, the Baptist Union of Great Britain said: “the churches have been calling for such a treaty for a long time. Cluster bombs kill indiscriminately and continue to do so long after fighting has stopped, harming those who are already living in a vulnerable situation following the conflict.”

In the two months after the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah on average three civilians were killed every day by unexploded cluster bombs. One third of these deaths were children.

Simon Loveitt, the United Reformed Church’s Spokesperson on Public Issues, said: “The agreement in Dublin offers hope for a future without such weapons and the chance to offer improved protection for civilians during and after conflict. In the past, the UK has been a significant user of cluster munitions. The UK Government’s support for a complete ban is therefore particularly important."

However, Steve Hucklesby, Methodist Secretary for International Affairs, warned that there was still much to be done: “The work is not yet finished. The strength of this treaty will largely depend on encouraging more governments to support it and take the important steps to phase out the stockpiling and use of these weapons.”

Information about the Churches’ campaign on cluster bombs can be found at: http://www.jointpublicissues.org.uk/clustermunitions

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.