31 December 2014

Use of cluster munitions in South Sudan

In February 2014, evidence emerged showing that cluster munitions had been used in previous weeks during the conflict between the opposition forces loyal to South Sudan’s former Vice President Riek Machar and Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) government forces, with air-support for the SPLA provided by Uganda, a signatory to the Convention on Cluster Munitions. United Nations mine action experts found the remnants of at least eight RBK-250-275 cluster bombs and an unknown quantity of intact AO-1SCh submunitions by a stretch of road 16 kilometers south of Bor, the capital of Jonglei State, in an area not known to be contaminated by cluster munition remnants prior to mid-December 2013.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon drew attention to the UN’s discovery of the cluster munition remnants near Bor and condemned the use of cluster bombs in he South Sudan conflict.

The CMC condemned the instance of use of cluster munitions in South Sudan and called for an immediate investigation into this new use of cluster munitions.

At that time Geoffrey L. Duke, Secretariat Team Leader of South Sudan Action Network on Small Arms (SSANSA) and Cluster Munition Coalition member said: “Use of cluster munitions anywhere by anyone is outrageous. This incident must be investigated immediately. It is irresponsible to cause more contamination in South Sudan given the indiscriminate nature of the weapon and the current burden of cluster munition contamination that the country struggles to clear. Governments worldwide should speak out against further use of cluster bombs to protect people, especially children and women from being harmed in South Sudan and worldwide.”

The United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) report ‘Conflict in South Sudan: A Human Rights Report’ dated 8 May 2014 referenced the cluster munition remnants found by the UN Mine Aaction Service, but did not indicate who was responsible for the use.

In September 2014 South Sudan reported to the 5th Meeting of States Parties to the Convention that an investigation conducted jointly with UN officials had not been able to determine who had used the weapon, and that any new information would be shared at upcoming Meetings of States Parties. Both South Sudan and Uganda have denied use.

South Sudan has not joined the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions, which comprehensively bans the weapon. Uganda has signed it, but not yet ratified.

South Sudan suffers contamination from past use of cluster munitions. At one point, cluster munition remnants were identified in all 10 states of South Sudan.

Government Memo

September 2014 memo on use of cluster munitions in South Sudan: English 

Government Condemnations

At least 21 states have made national statements expressing concern, including Australia, Austria, Cambodia , Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cote d’Ivoire, Croatia, Ecuador, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Mauritania, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway , Peru, Portugal, Slovenia, Somalia and Zambia

The following 58 states have condemned use of cluster munitions, naming South Sudan directly, in their national statements and/or via UN Resolution 2155 (2014) and/or EU 5MSP statement , which requires the endorsement of all EU states and other states aligning themselves with the statement: Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cote d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Ecuador, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary,  Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Korea Rep of, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Mauritania, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Somalia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, UK, United States, and Zambia.

UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon has condemned the use.


Press release (15 February 2014) by CMC member organisation Human Rights Watch, outlining their investigations into the use.