Cluster Munitions

Cluster munitions or cluster bombs have killed and injured thousands of civilians during the last 40 years and continue to do so today. They cause widespread harm on impact and yet remain dangerous, killing and injuring civilians long after a conflict has ended. One third of all recorded cluster munitions casualties are children. 60% of cluster bomb casualties are injured while undertaking their normal activities.

Cluster munitions are large weapons which are deployed from the air and from the ground and release dozens or hundreds of smaller submunitions. Submunitions released by air-dropped cluster bombs are most often called “bomblets,” while those delivered from the ground by artillery or rockets are usually referred to as “grenades.”

PRASDO Work Related to Cluster Munitions
  • To create and promote awareness on Cluster Munitions problem and discourage its use
  • To support the Cluster Munitions Coalition (CMC) to achieve objectives
  • To encourage media in highlighting the issues of cluster munitions
  • To mobilize and effectively utilize the youth volunteers in campaigns against cluster munitions
  • To engage religious scholars to condemn cluster munitions
  • To conduct research on various aspects of cluster munitions
Problem with this Weapon:
Air-dropped or ground-launched, they cause two major humanitarian problems and risks to civilians. First, their widespread dispersal means they cannot distinguish between military targets and civilians so the humanitarian impact can be extreme, especially when the weapon is used in or near populated areas.
Many submunitions fail to detonate on impact and become de facto antipersonnel mines killing and maiming people long after the conflict has ended. These duds are more lethal than antipersonnel mines; incidents involving submunition duds are much more likely to cause death than injury.

Cluster Munitions Used:
At least 15 countries have used cluster munitions: Eritrea, Ethiopia, France, Georgia, Israel, Libya, Morocco, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Russia (USSR), Saudi Arabia, Former Yugoslavia (Serbia), Sudan, United Kingdom and United States. A small number of non-state armed groups have used the weapon (such as Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2006). Billions of submunitions have been stockpiled by some 85 countries. A total of 34 states are known to have produced over 210 different types cluster munitions. More than two dozen countries have been affected by the use of cluster munitions including Afghanistan, Albania, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Chad, Croatia, DR Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Georgia, Grenada, Iraq, Israel, Kuwait, Lao PDR, Lebanon, Montenegro, Morocco, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Uganda, United Kingdom, Vietnam and Zambia, as well as Chechnya, Falkland/Malvinas, Kosovo, Nagorno-Karabakh, and Western Sahara.

Ban on Cluster Munitions: 
Simply put, cluster munitions kill and injure too many civilians. The weapon caused more civilian casualties in Iraq in 2003 and Kosovo in 1999 than any other weapon system.
Cluster munitions stand out as the weapon that poses the gravest dangers to civilians since antipersonnel mines, which were banned in 1997. Israel’s massive use of the weapon in Lebanon in August 2006 resulted in more than 200 civilian casualties in the year following the ceasefire and served as the catalyst that has propelled governments to attempt to secure a legally-binding international instrument tackling cluster munitions in 2008.

In February 2007, 46 governments met in Oslo to endorse a call by Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre to conclude a new legally binding instrument in 2008 that prohibits the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm to civilians and provides adequate resources to assist survivors and clear contaminated areas.
Subsequent International Oslo Process meetings were held in Peru (May 2007), Austria (December 2007), and New Zealand (February 2008). 107 countries negotiated and adopted a treaty that bans cluster bombs and provides assistance to affected communities in May 2008 in Dublin, Ireland. The treaty was signed by 94 countries at the Signing Conference in Oslo in December 2008 and is now open for all countries to sign at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.
See for more information.

Cluster Munition Coalition:
The Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) is a global network of more than 350 civil society organisations working in some 90 countries to end the harm caused by cluster bombs. The CMC was launched in November 2003 and founding members include Human Rights Watch, Handicap International and other leaders from the Nobel Peace Prize-winning International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which secured the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. Since the signing of the Convention on Cluster Munitions by 94 countries at the Oslo Signing Conference in December 2008, the CMC mobilised an intensive global ratification campaign to ensure that 30 countries ratified the Convention swiftly. After this happened on 16 February 2010, less than two years after the treaty was formally adopted, the CMC’s priority is to ensure the highest level of participation as the treaty enters into force and States Parties begin the formal process of implementation.