International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons

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ICBUW - The International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons

With 92 member organisations in 25 countries worldwide, ICBUW represents the best opportunity yet to achieve a global ban on the use of uranium in all conventional weapon systems.

Even though the use of weapons containing uranium should already be illegal under International Humanitarian, Human Rights and Environmental Laws, an explicit treaty, as has been seen with chemical and biological weapons, land mines and cluster bombs, has proved the best solution for confirming their illegality. Such a treaty would not only outlaw the use of uranium weapons, but would include the prohibition of their production, the destruction of stockpiles, the decontamination of battlefields and rules on compensation for victims.

ICBUW has prepared a draft treaty for such a convention. Our Draft Convention contains a general and comprehensive prohibition of the development, production, transport, storage, possession, transfer and use of uranium ammunition, uranium armour-plate and of any other military use of uranium. The Convention also outlines obligations concerning the abolition of uranium weapons and the destruction of uranium weapons construction facilities. In addition it obliges states to ensure a rapid decontamination of radioactive battlefields and test ranges, emphasising the protection of, and assistance to, civilians living in these areas and obliges states to compensate the victims.

In propagating a Draft Convention for a ban on uranium weapons, ICBUW is following the successful example of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. ICBUW’s grassroots member organisations lobby at a national level, while ICBUW itself works with supranational bodies such as the European Parliament and the United Nations. Our work is supported by Euromil - the European Military Union and has received the backing of the His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

When aggressor nations refuse to investigate the impact of DU on civilian populations, shifting responsibility on to weak and distracted post-conflict administrations, ICBUW sponsors independent research into its effects.

Two such projects are the Basra Epidemiological Study and the Iraqi Children’s Tooth Project. The former seeks to directly quantify for the first time the scale of the cancer epidemic around Basra in southern Iraq, by the careful examination of pre and post 1991 cancer records. For too long the US and UK administrations have sought to dismiss reports of an increase in cancers as ‘Baathist propaganda’. Meanwhile the Iraqi Children’s Tooth Project aims to assess the geographical and temporal extent of DU pollution across Iraq, through analysing children’s milk teeth for uranium isotopes. You can donate to either project here:

There is a growing consensus among civil society groups, scientists and some military organisations that the health risks from DU have been seriously underestimated. Establishment scientific bodies have been slow to react to the wealth of new research into DU and policy makers have been content to ignore the claims of researchers and activists. Deliberate obfuscation by the mining, nuclear and arms industries has further hampered efforts to recognise the problem and achieve a ban.

An independent treaty process bypassing the Convention on Certain Weapons is the best route to limiting the further use and proliferation of these indiscriminate weapons. As enshrined in the Geneva Conventions, the methods and means of warfare are not unlimited. We must not allow the short term military advantage claimed for uranium weapons to override our responsibility for the long-term welfare of people and planet.