Azara Blog: Hilary Benn supposedly wants a ban on cluster bombs

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Date published: 2006/11/05

The BBC says:

A worldwide ban on the use of cluster bombs is being called for by the international development secretary.

Hilary Benn said they had a very serious humanitarian impact and likened them to land mines, which were banned under international law in 1999.

The comments by Mr Benn, who is hoping to succeed Labour deputy leader John Prescott, were in a letter to cabinet colleagues leaked to the Sunday Times.
Mr Benn's letter, which is in contrast to government policy, was sent to Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett and Defence Secretary Des Browne, the Sunday Times reported.

In it he said: "The high failure rate of many cluster munitions, and the failure of many militaries around the world to use these munitions in a targeted way means that cluster munitions have a very serious humanitarian impact, pushing at the boundaries of international humanitarian law.

"It is difficult then to see how we can hold so prominent a position against landmines, yet somehow continue to advocate that use of cluster munitions is acceptable."

The UK should lead the way in boycotting the weapons, he said, and ministers should call for a ban next week when attending a major international arms convention in New York.

Well good for Benn for stating the obvious. There is no excuse for not banning cluster bombs. But how pathetic is this government that every discussion of any policy gets leaked to the media, seemingly in an effort to thwart proper analysis and/or accountability.

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