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Toward an Anti-DU Network in Germany Feb 2006

In October 2005 anti-DU activists met at the IPPNW office in Germany to discuss the possibility of increased co-operation and co-ordination among German organisations and individuals devoted to the abolition of uranium weapons.
29 September 2006 - Manfred Mohr & Angelika Schuster

At the moment, the German military has a commitment not to use DU weapons. However, as part of NATO, German troops have been present in locations where DU has been used by NATO allies. Because of this, it is possible that German soldiers may have been affected and there are certainly rumours suggesting that this is indeed the case. But more research and analysis is needed if we are to substantiate this.

Meanwhile, the Association of German Military Forces (Bundeswehrverband) promised to help in collecting evidence. There were also rumours that one of the most famous hospitals in Germany had planned a study into DU but was then stopped from proceeding with it.

In Germany, people and organisations working against uranium weapons share the view that there is a desperate need for more independent scientific research. Against this background, full support is given to the planned Iraqi epidemiology study. That support will include a series of summer schools to train physicians from the region. Responsibility for the project’s staffing and finance lies with IPPNW Germany, with the principal coordinator being Dr. Hoffmann from Greifswald University.

Participants reflected on the overall perception of the DU topic in Germany at the moment. There was agreement that after a peak of media and public debate connected with Kosovo some years ago, interest has been diminishing but, nevertheless, is still there. Thus, German environmental and other organisations might show some interest in the issue with its peace and anti-war dimensions but they also lack the necessary resources to delve further. Moreover, the DU subject is still - maybe more than ever - perceived as highly politically sensitive, if not 'anti-American'. However, some potential lies with organisations such as WILPF who are looking for new campaign topics.

It was decided that we should try and build on the DU-related alliances already in place, such as those between IPPNW, IALANA and GAAA (Non-violent Action to Abolish Nuclear Weapons) with a view to establishing a network based on that of the Belgium Coalition. We would begin the process with a workshop either in Hannover or in Berlin. Its aim would be to brief participants on the current situation in Germany, and map out a strategy for a coalition. As a first step, we agreed to share out responsibilities between participants and to contact other organisations such as IALANA, the German Peace Network, ORL, politicians and the media.

The remainder of the meeting was devoted to the possibility of co-operation with the German Cluster Munitions Campaign. Friends from their campaign joined us for this part of the meeting.

It soon became evident - and this has been confirmed at later meetings - that creating a formal political and lobbying link between the two topics might be difficult, and even counter-productive. However, this should not exclude co-operation and co-ordination on an informal level. This might include discussion on common topics such as the protection of civilian populations and the environment, and also the problems of environmental remediation from a remnants-of-war perspective.

Finally, thought was given to possible joint activities such as shared press conferences, meetings with politicians and parliamentarians and lunch seminars.

We would also aim to encourage the exchange of information regarding changes in legislation and planning pressure campaigns like divestment.

Since the initial meeting, we have had a very stimulating and promising meeting with the head and staff of the German Bundeswehrverband (Soldier's Association). The Bundeswehrverband expressed strong support for ICBUW’s aims as they have a keen interest in protecting German soldiers from the effects of DU exposure.

This experience, together with the substance of the meeting and of its follow-up, have given us all fresh impetus in pursuing the goal of a German Coalition.