Coalition Ltr to Senate: Support the Convention on Cluster Munitions and the Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act

June 23, 2008




Dear Senator,

Momentum is building to outlaw cluster munitions. Last month 111 countries meeting in Dublin adopted a new Convention on Cluster Munitions, recognizing that these weapons are not essential for the world’s military forces and that they wreak a terrible human toll even after fighting stops.

That treaty will open for signature on December 3, but the Bush administration has indicated that it does not support the convention. We urge you to support Senate Joint Resolution 37, which calls upon the United States to sign the Convention on Cluster Munitions, and to cosponsor the Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act of 2007 (S. 594).

Cluster munitions are bombs, rockets, and artillery shells that disperse smaller submunitions over broad areas. Their humanitarian impact is clear. Designed to attack large vehicle and troop formations, and not for the insurgent-based conflicts we see today, cluster munitions are indiscriminant weapons. Many of their submunitions fail to explode initially, posing potentially lethal risks to anyone that might later disturb them, including children attracted to what can look like shiny toys.

The United States has more than 700 million submunitions in its stockpile, the vast majority of which are aging and do not meet Department of Defense purchasing standards adopted in 2001 that require submunitions to have a 99 percent or higher functioning rate. Also, for the current fiscal year the United States is barred by law from exporting its cluster munitions that do not meet that reliability level.

The Convention on Cluster Munitions prohibits the use, production and transfer of cluster munitions. It requires the destruction of all stockpiled cluster munitions within 8 years. There is an exclusion for weapons with a small number of submunitions that have specific characteristics, such as point target acquisition and self-destruct and self-deactivating mechanisms, so that they do not have the indiscriminant wide area effect of cluster munitions or leave behind excessive unexploded ordnance.

The accord also requires the clearance of unexploded cluster submunitions and includes measures for international assistance to victims of these weapons. The United States is already a global leader in assistance for clearance and for victims of explosive remnants of war, of which cluster munitions are one type, and would strengthen its record by signing the accord.

If the United States refuses to join the treaty, it will find itself on the wrong side of an emerging humanitarian consensus. Even close military allies, such as the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and other NATO members, have pledged to sign the treaty and begin the destruction of their stockpiles.

Members of Congress do not need to wait for Presidential action on cluster munitions.

We urge you to cosponsor the Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act of 2007. Introduced last year in the Senate (S. 594) and House of Representatives (H.R. 1755), the act limits the use, sale, and transfer of cluster munitions that do not meet a 99 percent or higher functioning rate. It also requires that the weapons be used only against clearly defined military targets and not in areas normally inhabited by civilians, or where civilians are known to be present.

We respectfully encourage you to cosponsor the measure to limit weapons, the use of which by the United States and other countries has been responsible for the death or injury of tens of thousands of civilians across the globe.



Kareem Shora

National Executive Director

American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC)

Mary Ellen McNish

General Secretary

American Friends Service Committee

George Cody, Ph.D.

Executive Director

American Task Force for Lebanon

Daryl G. Kimball

Executive Director

Arms Control Association

Paul Ingram

Executive Director

British American Security Information Council (BASIC)

Sarah Holewinski

Executive Director Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict (CIVIC)

Patricia Burkhardt

Legislative Officer

Church Women United

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori

Presiding Bishop

The Episcopal Church

Andrew D. Genszler

Director for Advocacy

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Joe Volk

Executive Secretary

Friends Committee on National Legislation

Paul F. Walker, Ph.D.

Legacy Program Director

Global Green USA

Wendy Batson

Executive Director

Handicap International

Steve Goose

Executive Director, Arms Division

Human Rights Watch

Rev. Kenneth Gavin, S.J.

National Director

Jesuit Refugee Service/USA

Robert Naiman

National Coordinator

Just Foreign Policy

Marie Dennis


Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

Arli Klassen

Executive Director

Mennonite Central Committee

Rolando L. Santiago

Executive Director

Mennonite Central Committee U.S.

William D. Hartung

Director, Arms and Security Initiative

New America Foundation

Krista Riddley

Director of Humanitarian Policy

Oxfam America

David A. Robinson

Executive Director

Pax Christi USA: National Catholic Peace Movement

Kevin Martin

Executive Director

Peace Action

Jon Rainwater

Executive Director

Peace Action West

A. Frank Donaghue

Chief Executive Officer

Physicians for Human Rights

Sara Pottschmidt Lisherness


Compassion, Peace, and Justice Ministry

Presbyterian Church, (USA)

David T. Ives

Executive Director

Albert Schweitzer Institute

Ken Rutherford, Co-Founder

Jerry White, Co-Founder and Executive Director

Survivor Corps

James E. Winkler

General Secretary, General Board of Church and Society

United Methodist Church

Ambassador William Luers


United Nations Association of the USA

Josh Ruebner

National Advocacy Director

U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation

Martin Rendón

Vice President, Office of Public Policy and Advocacy

U.S. Fund for UNICEF

Susan Shaer

Executive Director

Women’s Action for New Directions




Please address replies to: Jeff Abramson, Arms Control Association,

1313 L Street, NW, Suite 130, Washington, DC, 20005