The Convention on Cluster Munitions includes an obligation never to use, produce, transfer or stockpile cluster munitions. It also includes several positive obligations to ensure no further use and to redress past harm caused by the weapons.
Clearance of contaminated areas
States Parties are obliged to clear areas contaminated by cluster munitions as soon as possible but no later than ten years after the entry into force of the convention for each state (Article 4). They have to report annually on the status and progress of clearance programmes. The CMC believes that most affected countries should be able to clear contaminated areas well before the ten-year deadline.
Should States Parties need more than ten years to clear their contaminated areas, they may apply for extension periods of up to five years – the extension period should not be longer than strictly necessary.
Under the Dubrovnik Action Plan, States Parties have made political commitments to conduct clearance in the most effective manner, to have a national plan to this end, and to include affected communities in the development of plans.
The CMC calls on affected states to start clearance now and to apply lessons learned from decades of experience in clearing cluster munitions alongside landmines and explosive remnants of war.
All feasible steps must be taken to ensure the exclusion of civilians from contaminated areas, including the marking and fencing of these areas. Risk education must be conducted to reduce the risk of injury. Programs should take into account age, gender, social, cultural, and political factors. They should also involve local stakeholders – especially those taking risks out of economic necessity – in developing alternatives to risk-taking behavior.
Past user responsibility
Under the convention, States Parties that have used cluster munitions in the past on the territory of another State Party are “strongly encouraged” to provide assistance to help clear and destroy cluster munitions including provision of technical data on the location and nature of the cluster munitions strikes.
The aim of every cluster munition clearance programme is to return land to the civilian population as quickly and safely as possible. In order to proceed in an efficient and expedient manner, States Parties have agreed on a number of principles and recommendations – for example, on how to identify a contaminated area or how to use appropriate clearance technology. The CMC has issued Guiding Principles strongly supporting the appropriate use of non-technical and technical survey methodologies to release land.