Treaty obligations

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.

National implementation measures

While the Convention on Cluster Munitions establishes powerful international law, states need to also adopt measures at the national level to make sure the law is fully respected, with penal sanctions for violations of the ban. Such measures also adapt the convention’s provisions to national legal systems while reinforcing its overarching purpose. They need to be taken in each and every member state, not just those that have stockpiled or used them in the past.

Legislation is the strongest way to fulfil Article 9’s obligation to implement the convention since it lays out binding, enduring, and unequivocal rules that leave less room for interpretation. But to complement the laws, member states can also adopt regulations and policies with more details or guidelines. Detailed information on states’ progress in adopting national implementation measures is available in the latest Cluster Munition Monitor report. More information on individual countries is available in the country profiles section.

Summary of the key convention obligations (Article 9)

States Parties are obliged to take all appropriate legal, administrative and other measures to implement both the prohibitions of the convention as well as its positive obligations (including stockpile destruction, clearance, victim assistance, reporting, and promoting the norm and universalization). Penal sanctions should be put in place for violations of the convention’s bans.

Interpretive issues under the Convention on Cluster Munitions

While the Convention on Cluster Munitions contains a clear and unequivocal ban on cluster munitions, some states have differing views on a few issues related to its implementation and interpretation. The Cluster Munition Coalition and the vast majority of convention member states believe that the convention’s prohibition on assistance with banned acts means it is also against the convention to:

  • Provide direct and indirect assistance with the use of cluster bombs, including during joint military operations with states not party;
  • Permit the transit of cluster munitions through the state’s territory;
  • Allow other states to stockpile cluster munitions on their territory; and
  • Authorize investment of public or private funds in the development or production of cluster munitions or their key components.

However, a small number of states have taken a contrary view and believe some or all of these acts are allowed under the convention. It is important for states that have not yet made clear their views to do so through statements and/or national laws and policies. The CMC recommends a ban on all these forms of assistance be included in national implementation laws.

Other links/information

The Harvard Law School International Human Rights Clinic makes recommendations on national legislation and has studied existing legislation to help states draft their own national laws: Staying Strong: Key Components and Positive Precedent for Convention on Cluster Munitions Legislation (download the PDF in the top right corner).

The ICRC has model legislation for common law states (in English).

New Zealand has prepared a national legislation model for small states that do not possess cluster munitions and are not contaminated by them.

Additional information is also available on interpretive matters that should be covered in national laws.