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France: Law on Eliminating Cluster Munitions

(Aug. 12, 2010) The French Parliament adopted Law 2010-819 of July 20, 2010, on the Elimination of Cluster Munitions. The Law adds a Chapter IV, entitled “Cluster Munitions,” to Title IV, Book III, of the Defense Code. (Loi no. 2010-819 du 20 juillet 2010 tendant à l'élimination des armes à sous-munitions, Legifrance, (last visited Aug. 10, 2010) [search in Les autres textes législatifs et réglementaires].) The Law prohibits the engineering, manufacture, production, acquisition, stockpiling, commerce, import, export, transfer, and use of cluster munitions. The act of assisting, encouraging, or inciting any person to engage in the prohibited activities is also punishable (id., art. 1).

The act of ignoring the prohibitions mentioned above is punishable by ten years of imprisonment and a €150,000 (about US$199,000) fine. Additional penalties may include loss of civic, civil, and family rights; interdiction to exercise certain public functions or professions; the closing of the establishment where the unlawful activity took place; and interdiction to remain on French territory if the offense was committed by a foreign national. In addition, French law will apply to French nationals who commit any of the above offenses abroad, even if the law of the country where the offenses occur does not prescribe punishment for those offenses. (Id.)

Finally, the state is authorized: (1) to keep the existing cluster munitions stocks until their destruction, which must occur as soon as possible and no later than eight years after the Oslo Convention on Cluster Munitions entered into force; (2) to transfer such munitions for purposes of their destruction; and (3) to keep, acquire, and transfer some cluster munitions in order to develop techniques for their detection or counter-measures (id.).

The French Parliament authorized the ratification of the Oslo Convention on Cluster Munitions on September 21, 2009 (Loi 2009 no. 2009-1133 du 21 septembre 2009 autorisant la ratification de la convention sur les armes à sous- munitions & Décret no. 2010-900 du 29 juillet 2010 portant publication de la convention sur les armes à sous- munitions signée à Oslo le 3 décembre 2008, Legifrance, http://www.legifrance.gouv.f
(last visited Aug. 9, 2010) [search in Les autres textes législatifs et réglementaires]). The Convention entered into force on August 1, 2010. (See Constance A. Johnson, Cluster Munitions Convention in Effect, THE GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (Aug. 9, 2010),