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Highest ever use of cluster munitions since entry into force of global ban treaty in 2010

Explosive weapons

According to the Cluster Munition Monitor 2015 report, launched today in Geneva, cluster munitions have been used in five countries since 1 July 2014. This is the first time these weapons have been used so intensively since the ban treaty entered into force in 2010. The Review Conference in Dubrovnik taking place from 7th to 11th September, attended by States Parties to the Treaty, will provide the international community with an opportunity to redouble its efforts to prevent any further use of cluster munitions. Handicap International is calling on States Parties to systematically condemn the use of these barbaric weapons in order to ensure the treaty continues to protect civilians in the future.

BLU 24 submunitions from a cluster bomb. Laos.

BLU 24 submunitions from a cluster bomb. Laos. | © Z. Johnson / Handicap International

Record use of cluster munitions

The Cluster Munition Monitor provides an annual overview of the implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions (Oslo Treaty) banning the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of cluster munitions worldwide [1]. According to the Cluster Munition Monitor 2015 report, between July 2014 and July 2015 cluster munitions were used in five countries: Libya, Syria, Sudan, Ukraine and Yemen - all non-signatories to the treaty. Not since the ban treaty entered into force in August 2010 have so many States and non-State actors been involved in the use of cluster munitions.

According to the Cluster Munition Monitor, two countries were affected by the use of cluster munitions in 2011, two in 2012 and three in 2013. Syria has the highest number of new victims of these weapons since the treaty entered into force, with 1,968 reported victims of cluster munitions between 2012 and 2014 - a particularly appalling record.

Civilians, particularly children, bear the brunt of cluster munitions. According to the Monitor report, 92% of cluster munition victims recorded between 2010 and 2014 were civilians, half of whom were children.

Systematic condemnation of weapon use

“The over-cautiousness of certain States Parties when it comes to systematically condemning new uses of cluster munitions risks reducing the scope of the treaty and gives the impression that non-States Parties can use these weapons with total impunity. This is unacceptable,” says Handicap International Advocacy Manager, Marion Libertucci.

Although more than 140 countries condemned the use of cluster munitions in Syria, their use in Yemen, Ukraine, Sudan and Libya has not been unanimously and firmly condemned by the international community. “Only by systematically condemning their use and, as a result, stigmatizing those responsible, and calling on all States to sign the treaty, will the international community be able to reduce and eventually eradicate the use of cluster munitions,” continues Marion Libertucci. “We should also underline that, although States Parties have made a lot of progress with respect to victim assistance, the States affected are still finding it difficult to fund necessary services for victims, who all too often live in extremely difficult conditions.”

Undeniable progress in implementing the Convention

The use of cluster munitions since July 2014 distracts from the progress made in implementing the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which has been signed by 117 countries [2] to date.

Since the signing of the Convention in 2008, 27 States Parties have destroyed more than 1.3 million cluster munitions and more than 160 million sub-munitions, respectively 88% and 90% of the stockpiles held by States Parties. A dozen or so States have already completed the total destruction of their stockpiles, in advance of statutory deadlines.

Between 2010 and 2014, more than 255 sq.m of land has been cleared of cluster munition remnants worldwide and 295,000 sub-munitions have been destroyed. Eight States Parties have finished clearing their contaminated land.

[1] The Cluster Munition Monitor 2015, which is coordinated by Handicap International with three other NGOs, is the sixth annual report of its kind. It reports on a complete range of cluster munition issues worldwide, including ban policy, use, production, trade and stockpiling. It also provides information on cluster munitions contamination, weapons clearance and victim assistance. The 2015 report reviews developments in the second half of 2014 and the first half of 2015 and reports on advances made since the Convention entered into force in 2010.

[2] The Convention on Cluster Munitions has been signed by 117 countries to date, ten of which are new States Parties: Belize, Canada, Guinea, Guyana, Paraguay, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Slovakia, South Africa and The State of Palestine.

[3] The Cluster Munition Monitor 2015 report can be downloaded from:

Date published: 09/07/15


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