Minister for Defence – Australia committed to Cluster Munitions Convention

The Australian Government confirmed today that it will not approve the stockpiling of cluster munitions in Australia by foreign governments.

The commitment not to authorise stockpiling by foreign governments will be confirmed in a public statement at the time of Australia’s ratification of the Convention on Cluster Munitions and in Australia’s Annual Transparency Report under the Convention.

Australia has never had an operational stockpile of cluster munitions.

Australia has been a strong advocate of an international ban on cluster munitions. Australia was an active player in the negotiations and one of the first countries to sign the Convention.

Australia’s legislation, the Criminal Code Amendment (Cluster Munitions Prohibition) Bill 2010, currently before the Senate, faithfully implements the Convention and is an essential step in Australia becoming a State Party.

Under Article 21 of the Convention, States Party to the Convention may continue military cooperation and engagement with countries that are not party to the Convention. The ability to maintain interoperability is central to the maintenance of Australia’s national security.

Australian Defence Personnel (ADF) personnel will not be permitted to use, develop, produce or otherwise acquire cluster munitions, or to make the decision to do so. This includes while serving on combined operations with Defence forces of other countries, in combined headquarters, or on exchange with a foreign force.

ADF personnel serving alongside Defence forces of other countries remain subject to Australian domestic and international legal obligations and national policy requirements, which are applied through ADF doctrine, procedures, rules and directives.

In line with our positive obligations under the Convention, Australia will continue to discourage the use of cluster munitions by countries that are not party to the Convention.

The Government remains committed to working with the international community to remediate regions and communities affected by explosive remnants of war, including cluster munitions, and has allocated $100 million, over five years, to undertake this work.

The Government is committed to ratifying the Convention as quickly as possible. Progressing the legislation through the Senate will be a priority for the 2012 Autumn Parliamentary sitting.

Once all measures to give effect to the Convention are in place, the Government will lodge Australia’s instrument of ratification.

Mr McClelland’s Office: Desmond Ko (02) 6277 7300 or 0457 754 122

Mr Smith’s Office: Andrew Porter (02) 6277 7800 or 0419 474 392

Mr Rudd’s Office: Ranya Alkadamani (02) 6277 7500 or 0434 664 589

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