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Cluster munitions

Annual report shows new uses of deadly weapon in Syria

The 2019 Cluster Munition Monitor, released on August 29, 2019, takes a serious look at the situation in Syria, where attacks involving cluster munitions continued to occur in 2018. The annual report counted at least 674 cluster munition attacks in Syria since mid-2012. As many as 40% of these weapons do not explode on impact, so these attacks have caused heavy contamination by cluster munition remnants, which themselves pose a deadly and long-term threat for the local population.

Click here to download the report

The Monitor assesses the implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions (also known as the "Oslo Convention") which bans the use, production, transfer and storage of cluster munitions, for the period from January to December 2018. It also covers the first half of 2019, where information is available. The Cluster Munition Coalition produces the report each year, with

Among the key findings for 2018:

  • New uses of cluster munitions were reported only in Syria, where at least 38 cluster munitions attacks occurred between July 2018 and June 2019. Since mid-2012, the Monitor has recorded at least 674 cluster munition attacks.
  • The majority of annual casualties in 2018 (53%) were recorded in Syria, as has been the case since 2012. In Syria, 65 casualties of cluster munition attacks and 15 casualties of cluster munition remnants were reported in 2018, though we understand that actual figures are likely to be higher due to limited access and difficulties collecting data.
  • 149 new cluster munition casualties in 2018, globally, caused either by attacks (65), or resulting from cluster munition remnants (84). It represents a sharp decline from 951 casualties recorded in 2016, mainly due to a change in the Syrian conflict context. This figure remains a major cause for concern: 99% of cluster munition victims are civilians
  • 26 states and three regions remain contaminated by sub-munition remnants worldwide

Humanity & Inclusion calls on States to enforce international law. “The Oslo Convention is working, but we must consistently condemn any use of these barbaric weapons,” says Jeff Meer, U.S. Executive Director of Humanity & Inclusion. “The Convention has delivered important protections for civilians in conflict, led to the destruction of stockpiles and contributed to clearance of significant areas of contaminated land. States Parties have also made a lot of progress with respect to victim assistance, but the countries affected still count on the international community to fund necessary services for victims, who all too often live in extremely difficult conditions.”

Deadly remnants

Up to 40% of cluster munitions do not explode on impact when they are launched during an attack. In 2018, the Monitor tallies casualties from unexploded cluster munition remnants in eight countries and one territory: Afghanistan, Iraq, Laos, Lebanon, South Sudan, Syria, Ukraine, Yemen, and Nagorno-Karabakh.

In 2018, Yemen had the highest recorded casualties due to cluster munition remnants (31). In Laos, 40 years after the conflict, casualties continue to be recorded (21). These figures highlight the dramatic consequences of using cluster munitions, which create long-term contamination by explosive remnants and a deadly threat for the population.

Victim assistance

Fourteen State Parties to the Oslo Convention are home to cluster munitions victims requiring victim assistance. The Monitor reports that many face continued decline in funding for community-based work and diminished access to rehabilitation and economic activities. In many countries, more services, better coordination and greater integration into national systems remains necessary. Access to rehabilitation services for survivors in remote and rural areas also needs to be improved in at least three States, Chad, Guinea-Bissau, and Iraq.

Since the Convention came into force on August 1, 2010, 35 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.

More information

Cluster bombs

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.

Convention on Cluster Munitions

The Convention on Cluster Munitions, often referred to as the "Oslo Convention," bans the use, storage, transfer, production and sale of cluster munitions, was opened for signature in December 2008. Currently, 120 countries are signatories to this convention, with 106 countries having acceded to or ratified the Convention.

Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor

This tenth annual Cluster Munition Monitor report has been prepared by the Cluster Munition Coalition, to be shared at the Ninth Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, at the UN in Geneva, on 2–4 September 2019. It, along with the Landmine Monitor, is coordinated by a committee of ICBL-CMC staff and representatives from ICBL-CMC member organizations, DanChurchAid, Danish Demining Group, Human Rights Watch, Humanity & Inclusion, and Mines Action Canada.