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Cluster Munition Monitor 2021: Sharp increase of cluster munitions casualties

Press Release | 15th September 2021, 10:00

Released on Wednesday 15th September, the 2021 Cluster Munition Monitor  reports the number of cluster munition casualties has increased by 30% in three years; from 277 in 2018 to at least 360 casualties of this weapon in 2020 globally. This increase is mainly due to new attacks using cluster munitions during the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict in October 2020. The conference of State Parties to the Oslo Convention, which bans the use of cluster munitions, takes place on 20-21 September.

Humanity & Inclusion is calling on states to enforce international law and for States that have not done it yet, to join the Convention.

The 2021 Cluster Munition Monitor report assesses the implementation of the Oslo Convention, which bans the use, production, transfer and storage of cluster munitions. The report focuses on calendar year 2020, with information included up to August 2021 where possible.

The Monitor recorded at least 360 new cluster munition casualties in 2020 globally- 142 casualties from attacks using these weapons and 218 as a result of cluster munition remnants. This figure represents a 30% increase in three years (compared to 317 casualties in 2019 and 277 in 2018). The main cause of this increase is the use of cluster munitions in the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh in October 2020.  Half of all casualties in 2020 were recorded in Syria (182), due to both cluster munition remnants and attacks.

A total of 107 people were killed and 242 others were injured (the survival status for 11 casualties remains unknown). Civilians accounted for all casualties whose status was recorded in 2020. Children accounted for 44% of all casualties.

Up to 40% of the sub-munitions do not explode on impact and leave remnants that pose a threat for the local population.

The impact of cluster munitions is always horrific, especially when they are used in areas with a high population density. They only kill civilians – both at the moment of use and for years to come. The international outcry against the use of these weapons – as we saw during the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh - underlines how the Oslo Convention has become an undisputable international norm.” says George Graham, Executive Director of Humanity & Inclusion UK.

Since the Convention came into force on 1st August 2010, 36 State Parties have destroyed 1.5 million cluster munition stockpiles, i.e. a total of 178 million sub-munitions. This represents 99% of all cluster munitions declared by State Parties. Overall, 26 states and three regions remain contaminated by sub-munition remnants worldwide.

The Oslo Convention has made great strides in protecting civilians against the scourge of cluster munitions: every year, existing stockpiles are destroyed and significant areas of contaminated land are cleared, while these weapons are increasingly stigmatized. But that is still not enough. In the last three years, we have seen a sharp increase in the number of victims of cluster munitions, mainly because of their use in the war in Syria and the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh. We must never tolerate atrocity. We must constantly remind States and armed groups that the use of these weapons is banned and that international law must be enforced.” explains George Graham.


  • You can access the report here
  • Experts are available for interviews upon request
  • Cluster bombs are weapons containing several hundred mini-bombs called cluster munitions. Designed to be scattered over large areas, they inevitably fall in civilian neighborhoods. Up to 40% do not explode on impact. Like anti-personnel mines, they can be triggered by the slightest contact, killing and maiming people during and after conflicts. As they make no distinction between civilians, civilian property and military targets, cluster bombs violate the rules of international humanitarian law.
  • The Oslo Convention, which bans the use, storage, transfer, production and sale of cluster munitions, was opened for signature in December 2008. Currently, 123 countries are signatories to this convention.

About Humanity & Inclusion

Co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Humanity & Inclusion is an international charity working in situations of poverty and exclusion, conflict and disaster. We work tirelessly alongside people with disabilities and vulnerable groups to help meet their basic needs, improve their living conditions and promote respect for their dignity and fundamental rights. 

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