Mundo Exchange from its beginning as a charity was primarily designed to help reduce violence and promote cross cultural understanding and tolerance between peoples. We have worked for the last 20 some years in Guatemalan and other world conflict areas helping with mental health issues caused by civil war and helping with community development projects. We continue to promote peaceful coexistence, communication and tolerance between peoples as primary goals.
Mundo Exchange decided to send Director Dalyn Simmons to the First Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions in Laos. To be accepted to this important international meeting Mundo first had to contact and submit information confirming our civil society or NGO status with the United Nations office in Geneva, Switzerland. After our international cross cultural organization was checked and rechecked we were accepted as one of the few small civil societies to come and learn at this conference. Those leaders working in Laos sent a free entry visa confirming Mundo’s support of the elimination of cluster bombs making it both easy and free to enter their country.
At the Cluster Bomb Convention in Vientiane, Laos Mundo Exchange was registered as a global civil society or NGO international organization and had the opportunity to sit in on the debates, voting and discussions of nations from around the world who were and have been working so hard to eliminate these destructive weapons. The seminars run by organizations and individuals who have been working for sometimes decades on this global social problem were mostly outstanding and informative. At night we would meet informally and formally, listen to people such as the Leader of Laos and other countries discuss their ideas, problems and solutions. We also had the opportunity to listen and learn from innocent children and adults who were the unfortunate casualties of bombings of their fields and lands.
The meeting and experience allowed Mundo to be able to join with many people, NGOs and other civil society groups that are like minded and supportive to working hard to make the world more peaceful and just. We recommend that other civil groups and individuals begin or continue to write letters to their nations, particularly if they are from one of the countries that has not signed and ratified the agreement and have not destroyed their arsenals.
To learn more about what is being done, and what you can do to eliminate the use of cluster bombs and also the manufacturing of these bombs Mundo Exchange has provided a list of resources found below:
Countries and the global citizens from Belgium, New Zealand, Ireland and Luxembourg were the pioneers passing legislation to ban investing in these weapons. Switzerland has also now outlawed investments in the production of cluster munitions.
According to clusterbomb.org there are over 160 financial institutions who are continuing to invest in cluster munition manufacturers. Over 120 of these financial institutions come from countries that have not joined the Convention. The countries mentioned were China, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, the United States and Taiwan. Perhaps even more amazing is that over 30 of these financial institutions that still invest and support the producers of cluster bombs come from countries that are members of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. The countries named are: Australia, Germany, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Great Britian.
During 2011 and 2010 both Bularia, Costa Rica and other nations ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions. However, around the same time Libya forces, as well as US and allies may have used cluster bombs in Misrata and throughout Libya too. The country of Yeman may have had US cluster bombs dropped. And although some countries such as Britain have signed the ban of cluster bombs they lease the island of Diego Garcia to the US to store their cluster bombs. Go figure? Unfortunately, Thailand has used cluster bombs during their ongoing conflict with Cambodia. The good news is that Thailand had representatives at the conference who are learning and working to educate their people on the necessity of legally joining the Convention and refraining from the use of these weapons. The Government of the United States was not represented at the conference. However, American civil societies were on board.
One of the most trying times during the Laos conference, was when two young Lao sisters were walking home and found a cluster bomb that killed one girl and maimed the other. These bombs called bombies by many Laos were left by the Americans during their war on Laos years ago. The U.S. and their allies dropped more than 250,000,000 submunitions on just Laos. Out of that total, about one third did not explode and are still killing innocents such as this young girl and have killed or injured approximately 50,000 more children, farmers, fathers, mothers and other family members. Over 60% of the casualties were young boys.
Learning from the past is often difficult but it is possible that humans can further evolve past our opposable thumb.
Let us know your feelings on the use and destruction of cluster bombs and other military weapons being used today, what countries are still using them and what your ideas are of helping to eliminate these bombs while educating the world. There is much to do by individuals, nations, civil organizations, associations and others to make this world safer and more humane. Its time to get on board and help ratify the Convention. Its time to stop putting such great amounts of money into wars and “conflicts” (http://costofwar.com/en/ instead of helping those in need of medicine, food, shelter and clean water. It is time.