Belgian Senate approves prohibition on financing of depleted uranium weapons
The law will prohibit governmental services and Belgian financial institutions from investing in firms that manufacture, use or possess armour and munitions that contain depleted uranium. The Senate’s decision in a plenary session followed a near unanimous vote on the issue by its Commission for Finances and Economic Matters.
The Belgian Coalition Stop Uranium Weapons! was delighted by the Senate’s decision: “The Senate has given – across all ideological barriers – a strong signal of support to the campaign against the financing of deadly and indiscriminate weapons systems,” said spokesperson Willem Van den Panhuysen. “We hope that this parliamentary act may inspire other countries throughout the globe.”
The amendment that led to the prohibition was introduced by Senator Philippe Mahoux, a member of Parti Socialiste (French-speaking social-democrats) on March 6th last year. Senator Mahoux introduced a law proposal amending Belgium’s 2006 statute on conventional weapons, which regulates financial activities surrounding controversial conventional weapons. The same law has also been used to prohibit the financing of cluster munition and anti-personnel mine manufacturers. The senator’s proposal met with little resistance and was amended just once, to ensure that it come into force on 20th June 2009 - the same day as Belgium’s general prohibition on uranium weapons.
Senator Philippe Mahoux
The final text, outlining the prohibition of the financing of uranium weapons, was adopted in the Senate Commission for Finances and Economic Matters with ten votes in favour and just one abstention. The text is now awaiting approval by the Belgian Chamber of Representatives before the 17th of June. It is thought that they are unlikely to challenge the prohibition.
During the Commission meeting that passed the law proposal, Senator Mahoux said: “When certain economic and individual activities with weapons are prohibited, as stipulated in the law of 8th June 2006, it is logical that the financing of these activities is also prohibited.”
Senator Mahoux, a medical doctor by training, added that inhaling the chemically toxic and radioactive particles released by uranium weapons has the potential to damage the health of civilians in contaminated areas; emphasizing that the threat to health continues for a long time after the end of hostilities.
The Senator was also a keen advocate for prohibitions on the use and financing of cluster munitions and anti-personnel mines.
Belgian senate, legislation piece no. 4-704/4