21 March 2019

Switzerland Announces Cluster Munition Free Status

The Cluster Munition Coalition warmly welcomes the announcement on 19 March that Switzerland has completed destruction of its cluster munition stockpiles.

"The announcement this week by the Swiss Federal Department of Defence is yet another indication of how the Convention on Cluster Munitions is successfully ridding the world of the suffering caused by this horrific weapon" said Cluster Munition Coalition Director Hector Guerra.

Switzerland - a State Party to the Convention - was slated to complete destruction of its cluster munition stockpiles by the end of 2020 under its treaty obligations. The announcement on 19 March means the country has achieved cluster munition free status nearly two years ahead of the anticipated schedule.  

A total of 26 states (12 States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, two signatories, and 12 non-signatories) and three other areas globally, are contaminated by cluster munition remnants.

Estimated global casualties caused by the weapon total 56,000 or more individuals. The countries with the highest recorded numbers of cluster munition casualties for all time are Lao PDR (7,697), Syria (3,081), and Iraq (3,039). 

Destruction of cluster munition stockpiles is critical to global mine action efforts to protect civilans and create safe communities which is closely linked to 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Switzerland's announcement comes two weeks in advance of the International Day for Mine Awareness and Mine Action

Switzerland has championed the Convention on Cluster Munitions since it ratified the treaty in 2012 and has since condemned new use of cluster munitions noting it is “essential” that States Parties meet suspected cluster munition use with a “strong and systematic” response.

The country was among the first to propose international action on cluster munitions and its position shifted to fully endorse a comprehensive prohibition during the Oslo Process that created the convention.

Cluster munitions or cluster bombs are weapons containing tens or hundreds of submunitions, which can saturate an area up to the size of several football fields. Anybody within the strike area of a cluster munition, be they military or civilian, is likely to be killed or seriously injured. Often, large numbers of the submunitions fail to function as designed and remain for years as deadly explosive remnants of war. The weapons are banned internationally under the Convention on Cluster Munitions due to this indiscriminate ability to kill and maim.