Cluster bombs have killed and injured thousands of civilians during their history of use and continue to do so today. They cause widespread harm on impact and yet remain dangerous, killing and injuring civilians long after a conflict has ended. One third of all recorded cluster munitions casualties are children. 60% of cluster bomb casualties are injured while undertaking their normal activities.

Refer to our ‘global treaty status overview‘ for an overview of countries that have stockpiled, produced or used cluster bombs, and countries in which cluster bombs have been used. For French and Spanish language versions of the global treaty status overview see the campaign resources page.

For detailed information on individual countries and on all aspects of the ban on cluster bombs, see the Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor.

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WHAT ARE CLUSTER BOMBS?

Cluster bombs or cluster munitions are large weapons which are deployed from the air and from the ground and release dozens or hundreds of smaller submunitions. Submunitions released by air-dropped cluster bombs are most often called “bomblets,” while those delivered from the ground by artillery or rockets are usually referred to as “grenades.”

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WHAT’S THE PROBLEM WITH THIS WEAPON?

Air-dropped or ground-launched, they cause two major humanitarian problems and risks to civilians. First, their widespread dispersal means they cannot distinguish between military targets and civilians so the humanitarian impact can be extreme, especially when the weapon is used in or near populated areas.

Many submunitions fail to detonate on impact and become de facto antipersonnel mines killing and maiming people long after the conflict has ended. These duds are more lethal than antipersonnel mines; incidents involving submunition duds are much more likely to cause death than injury.

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AFFECTED COUNTRIES AND TERRITORIES

25 countries and 3 other territories are believed to be contaminated by cluster munition remnants:

Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Chad, Chile, Croatia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Georgia (South Ossetia), Germany, Iraq, Lao PDR, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Montenegro, Norway, Russia (Chechnya), Serbia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Vietnam and Yemen, as well as Kosovo, Nagorno-Karabakh and Western Sahara.

Of this list, the most heavily affected states are Lao PDR and Vietnam (massive contamination), followed by Iraq and Cambodia (very large contamination.)

Another 13 countries may have a small amount of contamination:

Angola, Argentina (Falkland Islands/Malvinas), Colombia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Mozambique, Palau, Saudi Arabia, and the United Kingdom (Falkland Islands/Malvinas).

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USERS OF CLUSTER MUNITIONS

At least 19 government armed forces have used cluster munitions:

Colombia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, France, Georgia, Iraq,  Israel, Libya, Morocco, Netherlands, Nigeria, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Sudan, Syria, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States, Yugoslavia (former Socialist Republic of).

Of this number, the following seven countries have now signed or ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions, formally renouncing any future use of the weapon: Colombia, France, Iraq, Netherlands, Nigeria, South Africa, United Kingdom.Dots

PRODUCERS OF CLUSTER MUNITIONS

34 countries have produced cluster munitions. Of this number, 17 are still believed to produce cluster munitions or reserve the right to do so. The other 17 have stopped producing the weapon prior to or as a result of joining the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Cluster munition producers:
Brazil, China, Egypt, Greece, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea, South Korea, Pakistan, Poland, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Slovakia, Turkey, United States.

Former cluster munition producers:
Argentina*, Australia, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Chile, Croatia, France, Germany, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom.

* Argentina has not joined the Convention on Cluster Munition but has renounced future production.
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STOCKPILERS OF CLUSTER MUNITIONS

91 countries have stockpiled cluster munitions. Of this number, 20 marked with an asterisk (*) have now destroyed all their stockpiles. More than a dozen others are in the process of destroying them.

Afghanistan*, Algeria, Angola, Argentina*, Austria*, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belarus, Belgium*, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Canada, Central African Republic*, Chile, China, Colombia*, Republic of Congo*, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic*, Denmark, Ecuador*, Egypt, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Honduras*, Hungary*, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq*, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, North Korea, South Korea, Kuwait, Libya, Macedonia FYR, Mauritania*, Moldova*, Mongolia, Montenegro*, Morocco, Mozambique, Netherlands*, Nigeria, Norway*, Oman, Pakistan, Peru, Poland, Portugal*, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia*, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Thailand, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Yemen, Zimbabwe.

* States marked with an asterisk have now completed stockpile destruction.Dots

WHY IS A BAN ON CLUSTER MUNITIONS NECESSARY?

Simply put, cluster munitions kill and injure too many civilians. The weapon caused more civilian casualties in Iraq in 2003 and Kosovo in 1999 than any other weapon system.

Cluster munitions stand out as the weapon that poses the gravest dangers to civilians since antipersonnel mines, which were banned in 1997. Israel’s massive use of the weapon in Lebanon in August 2006 resulted in more than 200 civilian casualties in the year following the ceasefire and served as the catalyst for governments to seek to create a legally binding international instrument tackling cluster munitions in 2008.

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WHAT IS THE OSLO PROCESS?

In February 2007, 46 governments met in Oslo to endorse a call by Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre to conclude a new legally binding instrument in 2008. The Convention prohibits the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of cluster munitions, and requires states to destroy existing stockpiles of the weapons, clear contaminated areas and assist survivors and affected communities.

Subsequent international Oslo Process meetings were held in Peru (May 2007), Austria (December 2007), and New Zealand (February 2008). Some 107 countries negotiated and adopted the Convention on Cluster Munitions in May 2008 in Dublin, Ireland. The convention was signed by 94 countries at the Signing Conference in Oslo in December 2008 and entered into force as binding international law on 1 August 2010, after it reached the threshold of 30 ratifications in February 2010, just 15 months after it opened for signature. All countries can still accede to the convention at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

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WHAT IS THE CLUSTER MUNITION COALITION?

The Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) is a global network of more than 350 civil society organisations working in some 90 countries to end the harm caused by cluster bombs. The CMC was launched in November 2003 and founding members include Human Rights Watch, Handicap International and other leaders from the Nobel Peace Prize-winning International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which secured the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. Since the signing of the Convention on Cluster Munitions by 94 countries at the Oslo Signing Conference in December 2008, the CMC mobilised an intensive global ratification campaign to ensure that 30 countries ratified the Convention swiftly. This happened on 16 February 2010, less than two years after the treaty was formally adopted. The CMC now works for all states to come on board the Convention and to fully implement all its provisions.Dots

Read more about The Problem:

What Is a Cluster Bomb?

Real-Life Stories

A History Of Harm