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A Global Pact Against Depleted Uranium

By Francis Boyle, 24 April 2005

During September of 2004 I launched an international campaign to conclude a global pact against depleted uranium (DU) munitions by having every state in the world officially and publicly take the position that the Geneva Protocol of 1925 already includes within itself a flat-out prohibition on the use of DU in wartime, which they have no yet done. So far the United States is the only government in the world that uses DU munitions during wartime. In addition to prohibiting "the use of bacteriological methods of warfare," the 1925 Geneva Protocol also prohibits "the use in war of asphyxiating, poisonous or other gases, and of all analogous liquids, materials, or devices." Clearly DU is "analogous" to poison gas.[i] But we need every government in the world to legally and openly take that position. Then the entire world can pressure the United States to remove DU munitions from its arsenal.

Politically, the easiest way to accomplish that objective is not the conclusion of a new international treaty prohibiting the use of DU, but rather simply having every state in the world submit an interpretative Letter to that effect to the Government of France, which is the official depositary for the 1925 Geneva Protocol. This latter approach would also avoid the need to have the respective national legislatures of every state in the world to approve a new anti-DU treaty and thus complicate and prolong the process. All that needs to be done is for anti-DU citizens, activists and NGOs in each country of the world to pressure and convince their respective Foreign Ministers to sign, date, and then file this model Letter with the French Foreign Minister as indicated below. That task is eminently feasible.

As the Land Mines Treaty has already demonstrated, it is possible for a coalition of determined activists and NGOs, acting in concert with at least one sympathetic state, such as Canada, to actually bring into being an international treaty to address humanitarian concerns. This template Letter is for the use of concerned citizens, activists and NGOs worldwide, to pursue through universal governmental participation the complete and final elimination of DU munitions from the face of the earth:

His Excellency Michel Barnier
Foreign Minister
French Republic
37, Quai d'Orsay
75351 Paris
FAX: 33-1-43-17-4275
Dear Excellency:
The Republic of X presents its compliments to the French Republic. I have the honor to draw to your attention the Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or Other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare of 17 June 1925, for which the Government of the French Republic serves as the depositary. The Geneva Protocol of 1925 prohibits the use in war of asphyxiating, poisonous or other gases, and of all analogous liquids, materials or devices, as well as the use of bacteriological methods of warfare. The government of X believes that the Geneva Protocol of 1925 already prohibits the use in war of depleted uranium, uranium ammunition, uranium armor-plate and all other uranium weapons. We respectfully request your Excellency to circulate this communication to the other High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Protocol of 1925.
Please accept, Excellency, the assurance of our highest consideration.
Foreign Minister
Republic of X
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