It started with a working meeting on the afternoon of Nov. 6 to be followed by a meeting (“Morning Pint”) on Nov. 7. More than a dozen people – representing about the same number of organizations – came together to intensively discuss the state of affairs of ICBUW´s work to ban DU weapons.
The Global Action Call just released should be more disseminated together with other documents like the Fact-Sheet and the DU Checklist prepared for the Ukraine setting. Focus of campaigning and lobbying activities should be (again) on our Draft Convention on banning DU weapons (see also the Executive summary).
The Serbian case was presented by Sdran Aleksic – still in need of cooperation, exchange and support. Film projects like “Toxic NATO – Srdan Aleksic´ long Way to Justice” by Moritz Enders, or “Bringing It Home” in Canada are of great relevance for our awareness-raising activities. The Munich events led to new network contacts, i.a. to uranium-network.org on DU mining, or the Munich Peace Conference organizing the parallel “Security Conference” each February. There was even the idea voiced of establishing a (regional) Munich ICBUW group.
Evening event 6.11.
Highlight of the events was the conference “Banning Uranium Weapons – where are we now” organized together with the Munich Peace Alliance (www.muenchner-friedensbuendnis.de ). The meeting was well attended and took place in an interested-friendly and constructive-cooperative atmosphere. Unfortunately, the zoom arrangements did not function well. We apologize for that and can, at least, offer the link to a film recorded at the meeting (thanks to the filmmaker Gerhard Hallermeyer), which is available via this link.
Brigitte Obermayer and Heidi Meinzolt (moderator) opened the meeting stating that it happened in reaction to environment-related consequences of war – which was condemned altogether. Ria and Manfred, who described his approach to the DU issue via the engagement against nuclear weapons, read out messages and greetings received on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of ICBUW.
Then, as a kind of (pre-view) world premiere the film Toxic NATO by Moritz was shown receiving lots of applause.
Moritz, replacing Brigitte on the panel, described the process of making and producing the film with problems encountered and (now) existing prospects of further distributing it. Next, Aleksic emphasized DU victims, also within his own family, to be the main background for his work, trying to prevent, or help them. DU use, which amounts to a crime against humanity, was a nearly forgotten issue 5-6 years ago in Serbia, while it is also affecting North Macedonia, Kosovo or Albania being in need of (legal) support as well.
Manfred repeated his admiration for Aleksic using means of law as a neutral yardstick (thus) not being drawn into political and other querells. Such an approach should also apply to the war in Ukraine: International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law are valid for both sides – be it the self-defender or the aggressor. In relation to NATO, Manfred pleaded for demanding that the environmental protection pledges of the organization be taken seriously. Ria, then, came back to the issue of political frame, or conditions, which finally rest with the power of the people. Claus Biegert concluded the (first) panel round praising IPPNW for opening an office in Geneva to do, among other things, lobby work relating to the WHO which simply ignores or denies DU dangers.
The ensuing Q&A phase of the evening touched upon the following subjects:
- the issue of (State, or organizational) immunity raised by NATO in the Serbian case, and rejected by Aleksic;
- the existence of radiological and/versus chemical-toxic risks of DU – all being covered (made unacceptable) by the precautionary principle, a basic legal standard both under IHL and environmental law;
- the DU situation in Iraq and the (open) question of (legal) follow-up activities, there;
- the role of NGOs and media (with both negative and positive experiences).
At the panel, Ria underlined the development of DU ammunition as anti-tank weaponry polluting the area – down to the size of nano-particles – around targets hit, such as ground, or drinking water (see UNEP warnings). It simply would not be true, or a kind of exaggerating misinformation , to conceive of polluting DU clouds travelling around all of Europe, or the like.
Responding to a corresponding question, Manfred mentioned indications of a possible DU use in Afghanistan, in terms of a leaflet released by the German Armed Forces according to which “it would not be completely excluded” that DU ammunition was employed, demanding “preventive protection measures”. In general, he continued, ICBUW is always checking the prevailance of certain weapon systems in war zones, capable of carrying and firing DU munition (like A 10 planes). Finally, after the use of uranium weapons it remains impossible (too costly etc.) to completely decontaminate affected regions.
Heidi finished the evening event by calling for joint actions against war (as such) avoiding stereotyped enemy images…
(Manfred Mohr, Co-chair)