Every country in the world can and should join the Convention on Cluster Munitions. It is a question of political will and placing a priority on the protection of civilians over outdated and indiscriminate weapons.
The Cluster Munition Coalition stands ready to provide advice, technical support and resources to all countries that have yet to ratify or accede to the convention. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The world has suffered enough from the use of these indiscriminate killers
Cluster munitions are indiscriminate and unreliable weapons, both at the time of use and long afterwards, causing major humanitarian problems and risks to civilians. First, upon deployment cluster munitions spread explosive submunitions over a large area, usually leaving a footprint the size of one or two football fields. Such widespread dispersal means that the weapons cannot distinguish between military targets and civilians. Anyone within this large strike zone is at serious risk of being killed or injured. The humanitarian impact is especially heavy when cluster munitions are used in areas where civilians are present, which is the case in most modern conflicts.
In addition, many submunitions fail to detonate on impact, leaving de facto antipersonnel mines that continue killing or maiming for decades after they have been used.The strong explosive force of these “duds” makes them even more dangerous than antipersonnel mines to those who accidently trigger them, usually a civilian and very often a child. Cluster munition remnants pollute fields and buildings, and sometimes even remain hanging from trees. Not only do they create immediate dangers to those returning to live and work in contaminated areas, but they also present long-term lethal barriers to development as agricultural land, pastures for grazing, and other land needed for social or economic projects must be cleared before it can be used safely. Most cluster bomb casualties are caused to people who could not afford to wait until such clearance took place before carrying out their routine activities on such land.
Cluster bombs have therefore killed and injured thousands of civilians during the last 70 years and continue to do so today. In all of the conflicts where these weapons have been used, they have left a predictable pattern of human suffering. It is this unacceptable harm that the Convention on Cluster Munitions was created to prevent.
A comprehensive global ban is the only way to resolve the problem
The states that negotiated and formally adopted the Convention on Cluster Munitions in Dublin in May 2008 agreed by consensus to a strong, comprehensive convention, banning all types of cluster munitions and creating rigorous obligations on stockpile destruction, clearance, victim assistance and international cooperation and assistance. An effort by some states, including self-declared major users and producers, to develop alternative international law with only limited prohibitions and restrictions on some cluster munitions failed in 2011 after years of discussions.
The Convention on Cluster Munitions therefore stands as the sole international standard on cluster munitions, a standard endorsed by over half the world’s states. The states that adopted the convention did so because they recognized that the only way to effectively address the problems caused by cluster munitions is through a total ban, backed by requirements to destroy stocks, clear affected land, and assist victims. The development of the convention’s text was guided by a broad group of states, including many countries that have suffered the consequences of cluster munition use, keeping the focus on preventing future harm.
A large and diverse group of states have already joined
States from every region of the world have joined the convention, demonstrating widespread international rejection of cluster munitions. Countries that have stockpiled, produced, and/or used cluster munitions have joined the convention, including key international and regional military powers. Several of the world’s most affected states have joined the convention, including Iraq, Lao PDR, and Lebanon. Over 20 NATO nations have adhered as well. Their participation shows that a wide variety of states with different political, economic, and security perspectives all support the cluster munitions ban.
The convention is already working, preventing untold harm to civilians
This broad group of states is already well underway to implementing their obligations, some even before ratification. Every State Party to the convention that had stockpiles has already either finished destroying them or is well on its way to completing destruction before their deadline, some with the support of other States Parties or international actors. Such efforts demonstrate the clear preventative nature of the convention, as the destroyed cluster munitions will never pose a risk to civilians.
The convention has also created a strong community of states, UN agencies, civil society organizations and other interested actors, bound together to ensure cluster munitions are never used again and to reduce the impact cluster munitions have already caused. This group keeps the spotlight on the issue of cluster munitions, pressuring states not party not to use them and to join the convention. The engagement of such actors has also led to new funding and other forms of assistance to affected states. With such support and their own resources, those states littered with cluster munition remnants are working to survey and clear their land more quickly and to increase critical support to those that have already fallen victim to these weapons.