[ RadSafe ] ICBUW Continues to Be Very Active

Roger Helbig rwhelbig at gmail.com
Thu Oct 23 22:35:36 CDT 2008

 Note that they also support unscientific studies like the Iraqi children's
tooth project.  They also keep heavily lobbying the UN.  Do they have to
make reports to the UK Government's tax authorities like a US charity would
have to make to the IRS?  I wonder where they are getting their money and
how much they are getting.  I was, however, disappointed to find their DU
Myths page blank.

Roger Helbig
Report from the UN seminar 'Banning Uranium Weapons - legal avenues and
political cul-de-sacs'. On Wednesday 8th October, the International
Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons (ICBUW) held a well-attended lunchtime
seminar in the United Nations in order to raise awareness of depleted
uranium weapons in advance of a probable second resolution on the issue at
the UN First Committee.
10 October 2008 - ICBUW <info at bandepleteduranium.org>

Last year an overwhelming majority of states backed a resolution
highlighting health concerns over the use of conventional weapons containing
depleted uranium and ICBUW is keen for further steps to be taken on the

[image: Advert for workshop] ICBUW has held several seminars and workshops
in Geneva over the past few years, these have contributed greatly to a
heightened awareness of the issue among member states but this was the first
time that a New York venue had been used. With that in mind, the
overwhelming theme of the event was what legal and political steps are open
to NGOs and states working on the issue. However, given the current mood of
delegations and the current status of the campaign, no discussion on the
issue would be complete without a response to the IAEA, WHO and UNEP's
positions on DU.

The event began with a short introduction to uranium weapons and ICBUW from
US ICBUW member *Tara Thornton*. Mrs Thornton described how the properties
of DU make it an attractive option for use in kinetic energy penetrators –
anti-armour weapons that rely on the mass of the projectile to pierce armour
instead of chemical explosives. Maps then illustrated which states hold DU
stockpiles – currently more than 17 worldwide – and where DU has been used,
Iraq, the Balkans and possibly in Afghanistan.

She explained that since its formation in 2003, ICBUW has grown to represent
96 NGOs in 26 countries and outlined its goals – a uranium weapons free
world, identification and decontamination of sites and medical and financial
assistance for communities affected by their use.

Next to take the floor was *Dr Katsumi Furitsu* from ICBUW's Science Team
and Japanese NGO CARE (Campaign Against Radiation Exposure). Dr Furitsu
criticised the WHO and IAEA for focusing solely on lung cancer incidence and
chemical toxicity to the kidney in their reports on DU; this is a result of
using data on uranium miners whose exposure is markedly different to that of
those exposed to DU. That both agencies also based their risk assessments on
the International Basic Safety Standards (BSS) is also contentious. BSS
models take a cost benefit approach to assessing risk – something that will
be of little reassurance to civilians living in contaminated areas.

Dr Furitsu observed that standard radiation risk models are also based on
the average man – despite pregnant women and children being much more at
risk from ionising radiation. She urged that states look to the
Precautionary Principle for guidance when dealing with the risks from
uranium weapons.

*Gretel Munroe*, also an ICBUW Science Team member and member of US campaign
group Grassroots Action for Peace – based in Concord Mass., the site of
massive DU contamination from a manufacturing site - introduced delegates to
UNEP's studies on DU contamination.

Mrs Munroe explained the justification for UNEP's concern over DU in
groundwater in the Balkans – that being the rate at which penetrators fired
from aircraft such as the A-10 'Warthog' miss their targets and remain
embedded in the topsoil. She described studies suggesting that DU shells
corrode rapidly in many soils and are thus able to infiltrate water sources.

Moving on to Iraq, Mrs Munroe reminded delegates of UNEP's concern over the
trade in contaminated scrap metal and the lack of public health controls in
post-conflict environments, controls that would normally allow for the rapid
decontamination and isolation of similar sites in stable countries. Her
presentation ended with a brief critique of the US's veteran's studies. The
US Institute of Medicine has found them severely wanting due to their
vanishingly small sample size and lack of control groups – yet the US
continues to promote them as proof that DU is harmless.

*Alyn Ware*, Coordinator of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation
Disarmament (PNND) spoke in depth about the legal and political status of
uranium weapons. He began by noting that while there is no specific treaty
prohibiting uranium weapons, and while treaty law is much stronger than
customary law, they may well breach several principles of International
Humanitarian Law. For example: their impact beyond the field of conflict,
impact on civilians and impact on the environment. This debate was reflected
in the variety of recent reports to the Secretary General on the issue.

Mr Ware felt that the Precautionary Principle could be a useful guide when
dealing with uranium weapons. The Precautionary Principle has been gradually
replacing the Lotus principle (what is not specifically prohibited is
permitted) and precedents have been set with regard to the use of nuclear
weapons, although not conventional munitions. Nevertheless it may be
reasonable to expect states to hold off on using uranium munitions until
they are proven safe. He felt it likely that, because of the efficacy of
uranium weapons, user states would argue vigorously that military necessity
overrides IHL.

Moving onto the political status of uranium weapons, he began by discussing
Belgium's recent law banning the use or uranium in conventional weapons.
This was felt to be particularly important as it sought the opinion of other
states on the matter, encouraging them to enact similar laws. A similar
parliamentary approach is being taken in New Zealand, although it has been
held up by the imminent elections there.

A parliamentary approach was seen as being important as it brings foreign
ministries into the equation. Unlike a purely administrative approach – that
is inevitably influenced by defence ministries, foreign ministries introduce
a wider understanding of international law and processes into the equation.
Equally important is the scientific community. While there is still
disagreement among international agencies over the extent of harm from DU,
there is a consensus that it can be harmful.

Mr Ware then urged fresh action on humanitarian grounds, explaining that
there had been little action in UN committees since 1996, when DU was found
to be inhumane and indiscriminate. He suggested that the CCW could also be a
valuable forum although accepted that it is good at starting the job, but
less so at finishing it. However it could be the trigger for a group of
states to take the issue out of the process and back it, as happened with
anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions.

Mr Ware concluded by urging states to back this session's resolution on
uranium weapons, to be submitted by Cuba.

*Ria Verjauw* of the Belgian coalition 'Stop Uranium Wapens' introduced
delegations to the European Parliament's recent resolution on uranium
weapons, which called for a moratorium, an international treaty, monitoring
of contaminated sites and victim assistance. It had passed by 491 votes to
18, with 12 abstentions. In a statement to UN delegations MEPs had written:

*"The fight for a worldwide ban on uranium in weapons and ammunition is part
of our general fight for arms control and disarmament. Uranium weapons cause
indiscriminate harm. It is crucial to act against violations of
humanitarian, international and environmental law. We hope the EC, Council
and Member States demonstrate in practice their sense of responsibility,
given that this is a matter of public health."*

Mrs Verjauw then introduced delegates to the position taken by EUROMIL, the
umbrella organisation for European military unions that has repeatedly made
calls for a ban, citing the health concerns of its members and concerns over
civilian populations.

The session was concluded by an appeal for action from ICBUW Coordinator *Doug
Weir*. Noting the increasing political momentum for action on the issue over
the last three years, Mr Weir painted the issue in the broader context of
toxic remnants of war, stating that action now will limit the future
proliferation of other uranium weapon systems. Accepting that some evidence
remains contentious, he explained that there is more than enough data to
support action on a precautionary basis.

*"We do not ask for you to be radical – because striving for a ban simply is
not radical. Limiting the use of chemically toxic and radioactive materials
in warfare should not be contentious."*

He pledged that ICBUW would work closely with all states and was not intent
on naming, shaming or embarrassing users of DU. He called for those present
to offer their expert assistance in striving for a ban treaty; and explained
that although few states use DU weapons, this should not been seen as an
excuse for inaction, instead a spur for action now to limit the future
impact of uranium weapons.

Mr Weir said that the experience of the cluster munition coalition has shown
that conventional arms control can succeed and that as economic and
environmental pressures increase, it is more important than ever that the
international community work together. He then called for financial
assistance for scientific surveys in affected countries, noting that UNEP
has only produced a desk study on Iraq since the 2003 invasion.

He ended by cautiously suggesting that by 2011, the 20th anniversary of the
first major use of uranium weapons, the international community should be in
a position to take concrete and spirited steps towards tackling what is an
indiscriminate, inhumane and ultimately unnecessary weapon.

The papers supporting the seminar are available online in PDF format. See
the links below.

   See also

   - [image: Legal/Political Supporting texts from 'Banning Uranium Weapons'
   seminar, UN Oct 8th 2008.]<http://www.bandepleteduranium.org/en/a/193.html>
   Legal/Political Supporting texts from 'Banning Uranium Weapons' seminar,
   UN Oct 8th 2008. <http://www.bandepleteduranium.org/en/a/193.html> Contains
   PDF versions of the legal and political documents distributed at the ICBUW
   workshop 'Banning Uranium Weapons: Legal avenues and political cul-de-sacs'.
   9 October 2008 - ICBUW
   - [image: European Parliament Issues Statement to UN
   European Parliament Issues Statement to UN
Delegations<http://www.bandepleteduranium.org/en/a/192.html> Members
   of the European Parliament have issued a statement to coincide with ICBUW's
   work at the United Nations First Committee. In it they call for support from
   member states for a treaty banning the use of uranium in conventional
   8 October 2008 - European Parliament
   - [image: Scientific Supporting texts from 'Banning Uranium Weapons'
   seminar, UN Oct 8th 2008.]<http://www.bandepleteduranium.org/en/a/190.html>
   Scientific Supporting texts from 'Banning Uranium Weapons' seminar, UN
   Oct 8th 2008. <http://www.bandepleteduranium.org/en/a/190.html> Containing
   critical papers on WHO and IAEA, discussions on UNEP's findings in the
   Balkans and Iraq, US veteran epidemiology, UNEP Bibliography, Joint
   Statement by Scientists on DU and a critique of the 2008 NAS report.
   7 October 2008 - ICBUW
   - [image: UN Secretary General Publishes Report on Uranium
   UN Secretary General Publishes Report on Uranium
Weapons<http://www.bandepleteduranium.org/en/a/188.html> In
   response to last year's General Assembly Resolution, the UN Secretary
   General has published a report on the use of uranium weapons. The report
   contains the opinions of 15 states plus those of the IAEA and WHO. Four
   additional reports were added after the initial publication - those of
   Jamaica, Bangladesh, Italy, Bolivia and UNEP.
   17 September 2008 - ICBUW
   - [image: UN General Assembly Passes DU
   UN General Assembly Passes DU
Resolution<http://www.bandepleteduranium.org/en/a/152.html> The
   United Nations General Assembly has passed, by a landslide, a resolution
   calling for further research into the health effects from DU.
   5 December 2007 - ICBUW

 Address ICBUW - International Coalition to Ban Depleted Uranium

Bridge 5 Mill - 22a Beswick Street - Ancoats - Manchester (UK) - M4 7HR

Telephone: +44 (0)161 273 8293 / 8283 - Fax: +44 (0)161 273 8293

 Current Research The latest independent DU research projects supported by
 2 Articles

   - [image: Support the Basra Epidemiological
Study]<http://www.bandepleteduranium.org/en/a/41.html> Support
   the Basra Epidemiological
Study<http://www.bandepleteduranium.org/en/a/41.html> ICBUW
   has called for financial support to assist an epidemiological research
   project in Basra, southern Iraq, where large volumes of DU weapons were used
   during the wars in 1991 and 2003. This research project, the first of it's
   kind in the world, has been carried out on the initiative of the Iraqi
   doctors themselves, for the health and welfare of the Iraqi people. It aims
   to assess for the first time the extent to which DU pollution in Basra is
   damaging civilians' health.
   29 September 2006 - ICBUW
   - [image: The Iraqi Children's Tooth
Project]<http://www.bandepleteduranium.org/en/a/12.html> The
   Iraqi Children's Tooth
Project<http://www.bandepleteduranium.org/en/a/12.html> This
   project will document the levels of DU contamination in children who live in
   or near areas contaminated with uranium oxide dust particles derived from
   the use of DU weapons. Fundraising for the project is still underway, for
   information on how to donate please read on.
   28 September 2006 - ICBUW

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