Cluster Bomblets

A cluster bomb, or cluster munition, is a weapon containing multiple explosive submunitions. These containers are dropped from aircraft or fired from the ground and designed to break open in mid-air, releasing the submunitions and saturating an area that can be the size of several football fields. Anybody within that area, be they military or civilian, is very likely to be killed or seriously injured.

As so many of the submunitions fail to work properly, huge quantities are left on the ground and, like landmines, remain a fatal threat to anyone in the area long after a conflict ends. These weapons kill and injure people trying to rebuild their lives after conflict. They stop people from being able to use their land and access hospitals and schools. They can remain a threat for decades.

Cluster munitions are defined under the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions. The Convention on Cluster Munitions bans the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster munitions and places obligations on countries to clear affected areas, assist victims and destroy stockpiles. By joining the Convention, the majority of the world has set aside outdated arguments on the military utility of cluster munitions and recognised that humanitarian concerns and the protection of civilians must come first. The Convention on Cluster Munitions has had a powerful effect in further stigmatising cluster munitions, so that even those countries that have not yet joined the treaty would be unable to use them without being subject to international condemnation.

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