Cluster bombs still in use, six years after ban

  • Explosive weapons

1st August 2016 is the 6th anniversary of the entry into force of the Oslo Convention which bans the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster munitions. Despite the undeniable success of the Convention, which has now been signed by 119 States, the use of cluster munitions has reached record levels since 2010.

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A cluster munition found in a rice paddy field by Handicap International's team in Laos
A cluster munition found in a rice paddy field by Handicap International's team in Laos

Cluster munitions were used in five countries between July 2014 and July 2015: Libya, Syria, Sudan, Ukraine and Yemen - all non-signatory States. Not since the Oslo Convention banning these weapons entered into force in 2010 have so many States or non-State actors been involved in the use of cluster munitions. According to the Cluster Munitions Coalition, since summer 2015 cluster munitions have also been used on numerous occasions in Yemen and Syria.

Dropped from aircraft or fired from the ground, cluster munitions are designed to open in the air, releasing sub-munitions over an area that can be as large as several football fields. As a result, they kill and maim civilians and combatants indiscriminately. According to the 2015 Cluster Munition Monitor, 92% of recorded victims of these weapons are civilians. Up to 40% of sub-munitions do not explode on impact, endangering the lives of civilians sometimes for decades after a conflict has ended, and disrupting the economic and social life of polluted areas.

Towards the universalisation of the Convention

Significant steps have been made to increase the number of States parties to the Convention. Several new States, including Cuba, recently joined. Out of the 119 signatory countries, 100 are full States Parties, making the Convention a powerful arms control instrument. What's more, 28 States parties, including the UK, have destroyed 1.3 million cluster munitions - equivalent

Obligations of States Parties

When it came into force on 1st August 2010, the Convention on Cluster Munitions became a binding instrument of international law, banning cluster munitions, and requiring States Parties to destroy their stockpiles, meet the needs of victims, clear contaminated areas and provide people with risk education. The Oslo Conventiion is the most important disarmament treaty since the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty.

 


From 5th to 7th September 2016, Geneva will host the 6th Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, when each State Party will review progress towards meeting their obligations under the Convention, particularly in terms of the destruction of stockpiles, clearance and victim assistance. The conference will also provide States Parties with an opportunity to underline their commitment to the universalisation of the Convention and to unanimously condemn any future use of cluster munitions.

Published 27/07/16

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