Fifteen Years of the CMC!

This year, the Cluster Munition Coalition is celebrating its 15th anniversary as an international civil society organization working towards a world free of cluster munitions and protecting civilians that have fallen victim to the effects of the vile weapon.

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Despite many fantastic achievements over the years, challenges still remain.

Back in 2003, when the CMC was founded, at least 86 countries stockpiled millions of cluster munitions, which contained untold millions, perhaps even billions, of submunitions. This was a world uninhibited by today’s stigma on use, consequently the weapon was used widely and liberally in at least three-dozen countries, killing and injuring civilians numbering in the tens of thousands, both at the time of use and in the subsequent months, years, or decades. With such widespread and unfettered use, those millions of stockpiled munitions represented a staggering human-made disaster in waiting. Something had to be done.

After unrestrained use in the former Yugoslavia in 1999 and again in Afghanistan and Iraq in 2001–2003, a number of people came to realize that states saw the horrific numbers of civilian casualties as a tolerable consequence of use and, unless they came together, states would continue to use cluster munitions extensively. With the success of the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty proving that efforts to change state policies and practices could be achieved by concerted action, NGOs from the landmine sector began pressing governments to take up the issue.

On 13 November 2003, the CMC was launched to further their cause.

Made up of a membership of approximately 350 civil society organizations from roughly 100 countries, the CMC represented and facilitated the cumulative effort against cluster munitions, and called for an immediate moratorium on use, an acknowledgment of states’ responsibility for ERW, and a commitment to provide resources to affected areas. From 2003–2006, the CMC pressed and encouraged states to negotiate a new and comprehensive international law to address the cluster munition problem. In 2007, after tireless campaigning, some governments began to come around to the concept, which led to the CMC being in the vanguard of the Oslo Process that culminated in the adoption and signature of the Convention on Cluster Munitions in 2008. The role of other partners, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, was also crucial in bringing about the ban.

Fifteen years after the founding of the CMC and 10 years since the adoption of the convention, there have been some considerable successes. To date, 120 countries have signed or acceded, with 104 States Parties. No State Party has used cluster munitions since the convention was adopted. A total of 1.4 million cluster munitions and more than 177 million submunitions (or 99% of stocks declared by States Parties) have been destroyed by 35 States Parties. And 19 states no longer produce cluster munitions, including one non-signatory. 

But challenges remain. New casualties are still occurring, 289 in 2017 alone; civilians accounted for some 99% of these, where status was recorded. Despite a global outcry, new use has been reported in Syria and Yemen. A decline in funding for community-based work of local survivor organizations has hampered access to rehabilitation and economic activities in some countries. And quite bewilderingly, 16 states still produce cluster munitions or reserve the right to do so.

However, it is precisely this, the confronting and overcoming of obstacles in ridding the world of these weapons and their heinous aftereffects, that makes the CMC the dogged and resolute organization it is today. These challenges give the CMC its purpose. Members’ efforts are directly targeting these plus countless more challenges in order to achieve the CMC’s original goal of a world free of these monstrous weapons and protecting civilians that have fallen victim to their effects. 

In light of this, today, on the occasion of our 15th birthday, the CMC sends our sincerest thanks to all our past and present campaigners, advocates, members, supporters, and friends for contributing so much toward removing this blight on humanity and wish you all the best in our shared future endeavors. 

Together, we can realize the goal of the founding members and succeed in ridding the world of cluster munitions.