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ICBUW Germany accuses government of trivialising depleted uranium use

With a new resolution on DU set to be tabled at the UN General Assembly this month, German parliamentarians and campaigners have challenged the government’s decision to abstain on the last resolution in 2014.
5 October 2016 - ICBUW

Green MP Agnieszka Brugger In a written parliamentary question, Green MP Agnieszka Brugger (pictured right) asked the federal government for clarification on the conditions under which the government would revert back to supporting the biennial UN resolutions on DU. A position that better reflects the repeated recommendations of the European Parliament. Brugger also asked whether the government had taken concrete steps to follow up on a petition submitted by campaigners earlier this year.

The government had abstained in 2014 claiming that the text of the resolution had been unduly selective, and having received an answer to the written question, campaigners have accused the government of continued falseness and contrariness.  

The response from state minister Michael Roth (Foreign Office, Member of Bundestag, Social Democratic Party), which was provided at the beginning of September, reiterated the same tired line that the quote from the UNEP report used in the resolution did not accurately reflect the  current state of research on the subject – as recorded in their explanation of vote in 2014. We would agree, insofar as the quote related only to fieldwork on a limited number of sites in the Balkans several years after the weapons were used. Had there been space in the resolution we would have preferred that it had listed the numerous clearance and harm reduction measures recommended by UNEP, the IAEA and the WHO instead.

In pre-negotiations on the 2014 resolution, Germany had attempted to limit the text even further – ironically through selective quoting, as we reported at the time. As it was, the quote seemed intended to highlight that a precautionary approach to the use and post-conflict management of DU was advisable – something upon which there appears to be consensus among UN agencies. It is also the approach taken by the German military, which has its own precautionary guidelines for reducing the risk that their personnel will be exposed.

But how will they vote this year? According to Roth: “In the case that a new resolution on “the effects of the use of armaments and ammunitions containing depleted uranium” during the First Committee of the UN General Assembly in 2016 would reflect the current state of research in a balanced and adequate manner the Feral Government could, like in the years until 2010, vote with “yes”.”

But for ICBUW Germany, it amounts to a basic contradiction if the federal government supports further investigation and research on DU, yet all the while proceeding from a position that DU is completely harmless, rejecting the precautionary approach to the weapons that they apply to their own personnel.

As for the research that campaigners called for in their petition, it remains to be seen how far the federal government - specifically the departments of health, of research and of defence, mentioned in the Bundestag decision - are investigating the risks that DU poses to civilians. Nevertheless Roth claims that: “…an objective debate on the potential effects of the use of ammunition containing depleted uranium” is taken “very seriously”.

Fine words but no substitute for action and the first test of that will come when voting takes place at the UN General Assembly’s First Committee four weeks from now.


Bundesregierung verharmlost weiter die Uranwaffenthematik (ICBUW Deutschland)


  • English version of German government response to Brugger's question

    16 Kb - Format docx
    Under which circumstances would the Federal Government vote “yes” at the upcoming voting of the United Nations General Assembly on the resolution on the effects of the use of uranium ammunition in accordance with the recommendation of the European Parliament and what specific measures are employed as follow-up to the decision of the Bundestag of the 28th April 2016 (BT-Drs.:18/8097)?