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"Someone set up us the bomb"

Anyone who has read a half-way serious newspaper etc in the last few days will be well aware of the treaty on cluster bombs etc, and that the US, China and sundry other military heavy hitters have not signed it. After a couple of days of fruitless digging, I have laid hands on the list of those entities that have signed it.

And lo, and indeed, behold, by my reckoning only nine of the 25 biggest military spenders have signed on the line, and 118 out of 221 or so entities that either have full sovereignty or are self-governing to some degree. This includes British and French territories like the Falklands and St Pierre & Miquelon.

So, here are some of the military super powers that have signed up.

  • The Vatican - no armed forces. It employs Swiss mercenaries. While cluster munitions do not have to be air dropped, that is the preferred delivery mechanism. His Holiness would find that St Peters does not provide much scope even for short take off and landing.
  • Niue - has a population of 1700 and "Having no military or the resources to maintain a global diplomatic network, New Zealand retains responsibility for the foreign affairs and defence of Niue". Source. New Zealand scrapped its air force a while back.
  • The Cook Islands - Much the same story as Niue, although there are about 19,000 cooks, and thus in dire danger of spoiling the broth.
  • Nauru - "Though Nauru has close ties with Australia, there is no known defence agreement between the two nations". Source Population does not reach five figures.
  • Liechtenstein - "Abolished their army in 1868 because it was deemed too costly. Army is only permitted in times of war, but this situation has never occurred. According to the CIA World Factbook, defense is the responsibility of Switzerland. However, official sources of both Switzerland and Liechtenstein do not provide any backing to this claim and no defense treaty is ever mentioned". Source
  • Palau - "Defence is the responsibility of the United States". Source.
  • Marshall Islands - ditto
  • San Marino - total military expenditure $700,000 in 2000/1. It does have a crossbow corps though. Source.
  • Vanuatu - "Vanuatu's military consist of a small, mobile, corps of 300 volunteers". Source.

Not all of the world's microstates felt the need to sign up, with Andorra, Monaco and a plethora of West Indian islands not bothering. I do wonder whether Niue and the like were contacted via some sort of Facebook system for states and neo-states, and just could not resist the temptation to join the 'cluster bombs are nasty' group.

As a point to note, by the time one gets to the 71st biggest military spender, that is about 1% of the UK's outlay and 78 of the 118 signatories spend that one per cent or less.

(My headline refers to the All Your Base craze of 2000 /2001. More here.).

As an addendum, here is a map of the Middle East - the world's dodgiest neighbourhood? - with signatories shown in black, these being Jordan, Lebanon, Kuwait, Qatar, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Bahrain has signed up too, but is too small to show clearly


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