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ICBUW Meets the Cluster Munitions Coalition Feb 2006

In January, ICBUW representatives met with Stan Brabant at Handicap International's HQ in Brussels, in an effort to learn from their successful campaigns against landmines and cluster munitions.
29 September 2006 - Willem Van den Panhuysen

Handicap International is an international NGO that works in three fields: the rights of disabled people, landmines and the yearly publication of the Landmine Monitor report. Handicap International works in 60 countries and the organisation gathers data from the fieldworkers in each country. Together with statistics, this information generates campaigns to ban specific weapon categories. Currently, Handicap International does not work on disabilities caused by depleted uranium, the focus is on landmines and cluster munitions. However, Stan Brabant said that in the future there may be opportunities to cover DU weapons and joint presentations on the consequences of the Iraq war may be possible. We also discussed the idea of presenting the DU topic at the next annual meeting of the Cluster Munitions Coalition.

ICBUW meets the Cluster Munitions Coalition

No General Assembly

Formed in The Hague in November 2003, the Cluster Munitions Coalition is made up of 151 member organisations. It works on an international level with a steering committee consisting of 10 NGOs (Landmine Action UK, Amnesty International UK, Human Rights Watch, DanChurchAid, Pax Christi and Handicap International). The Committee was self-elected and is running the whole campaign. Every six months one of the members of the steering committee coordinates the campaign. A subcommittee of the steering committee has elected the current coordinator, Thomas Nash.

There are many policy differences among the member organisations. For example Handicap International wants a ban, but Human Right Watch strives after a moratorium on cluster munitions. Nevertheless they all share the goal to minimize the use of cluster munitions as much as possible. Everything is focused on this goal.

Although the CMC has a code of conduct that governs how the Coalition functions, Stan said: "The power is in the hands of the ones that do the work." He emphasised the importance of getting the support of charismatic people (e.g. Princess Diana for the Landmine campaign) to raise media awareness. "You have to ask for the maximum and to look what can be achieved", he said. The campaign maintains connections with domestic groups and with networks. Depending on the target groups or fields of work, they look within the partner NGOs for people to take up the tasks.

No Draft Convention

Because of the clearer legal position of cluster munitions, they have neither a Draft Convention nor legal experts, focusing instead on existing laws and conventions. They have effective lobby campaigns on many levels with draft legislation in twelve countries. The UN first committee can be activated later.

No Membership Fees

The revenues of Handicap International come from members and private donors, not from governments. Membership fees are not collected. Organisations can contribute by setting up websites or doing research.