Today, around a 100 countries, including Lebanon, became signatories to the Convention on Cluster Munitions. What came to be known as “the Oslo Process” was pushed to this conclusion by the Red-Green Norwegian government despite US lobbying to undermine the treaty. US officials have even accused Norway of buying nations off to join the process, according to Steve Goose, arms director at Human Rights Watch (Source: Klasvåpen – det umuliges kunst, documentary in Norwegian). In the same documentary, Norwegian foreign minister, Jonas Gahr Støre, explains that the watershed in the process came after the summer war of 2006 — when Israel dropped more than a million cluster bombs over south Lebanon in the final days of the war. Israel, however, is not a signatory to the treaty. Neither are the three major arms producers China, Russia, and the United States.
That is not the only flaw in the treaty. By pursuing independent organizational channels, the Norwegian brokers evaded the situation where a veto in the UN or the dominant member in NATO could bring down the treaty. However, the compromise reached in Dublin earlier this year included an article allowing treaty signatories “to engage in military cooperation and operations with States not parties to this Convention that might engage in activities prohibited to a State party.” (Source: HRW)
Still, it is a step in what can only be a long and difficult process. Optimists are hoping that by ostracizing certain countries, the treaty will put pressure on them to eventually join. The United States obviously takes it seriously, least of all because it would need to remove its cluster munitions at several bases around the world. On another level — and I think of this particularly when I remember some of the chilling discussions on the “legality” of Israel’s cluster bomb dumping during the Lebanon war — at least now there is a minimum ethical line in writing.