Cluster munitions still used, five years after convention banning them

c_Z-Johnson_Handicap-International__live_cluster_sub-munitions_found_in_Lebanon_in_2006.jpgAugust 1, 2015 is the 5th anniversary of the entry into force of the Oslo Convention banning the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster munitions. Despite the clear success of the convention, which 117 countries have signed, cluster munitions were still being used in conflicts in 2015.

More than 90% of recorded cluster munitions victims are civilians, according to the 2014 Cluster Munition Monitor report[1]. Dropped from aircraft or fired from the ground, cluster munitions are designed to open in the air, releasing cluster munitions over an area that can be as large as several soccer fields. In fact, up to 40% of these cluster munitions do not explode on impact, endangering the lives of civilians sometimes for decades after a conflict, disrupting the economic and social life of polluted areas. They kill and maim civilians and military personnel indiscriminately.

Parties to conflicts in Syria, Yemen, Libya, South Sudan and Ukraine have used cluster munitions in recent years, despite condemnation by the international community.  

Towards the universalization of the convention

That said, the Oslo treaty is a powerful arms control instrument, and has made major strides towards the eradication of cluster munitions. Since the convention entered into force, 22 States Parties have destroyed 1.16 million cluster munitions—equivalent to 80% of cluster munitions declared stockpiled by States Parties under the convention.

Obligations of States Parties

The Oslo Convention is the most important disarmament treaty since the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. When it came into force on August 1, 2010, the Oslo Convention became an international instrument, binding under international law, banning cluster munitions and requiring States Parties to destroy their stockpiles, provide assistance to victims, clear contaminated areas, and provide risk reduction education to civilians.

From September 7 to 11, 2015, the city of Dubrovnik, Croatia, will play host to the First Review Conference of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. At this meeting, each State Party will review its progress towards meeting obligations under the convention, particularly in terms of the destruction of stockpiles, clearance and victim assistance. This conference will also provide States Parties with an opportunity to underline their commitment to the universalization of the convention, and to unanimously condemn any future use of cluster munitions.