Convention on Cluster Munitions
The Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) is an international treaty
A treaty is an express agreement under international law entered into by actors in international law, namely sovereign states and international organizations. A treaty may also be known as an agreement, protocol, covenant, convention or exchange of letters, among other terms...

 that prohibits the use, transfer and stockpile of cluster bomb
Cluster bomb
A cluster munition is a form of air-dropped or ground-launched explosive weapon that releases or ejects smaller sub-munitions. Commonly, this is a cluster bomb that ejects explosive bomblets that are designed to kill enemy personnel and destroy vehicles...

s, a type of explosive weapon which scatters submunitions ("bomblets") over an area. The convention was adopted on 2008 in Dublin, and was opened for signature on 2008 in Oslo
Oslo is a municipality, as well as the capital and most populous city in Norway. As a municipality , it was established on 1 January 1838. Founded around 1048 by King Harald III of Norway, the city was largely destroyed by fire in 1624. The city was moved under the reign of Denmark–Norway's King...

. It entered into force on 2010, six months after it was ratified by 30 states. Currently, 63 states have ratified it and another 47 have signed but not ratified it.

Countries that ratify the convention will be obliged "never under any circumstances to":

(a) Use cluster munitions;

(b) Develop, produce, otherwise acquire, stockpile, retain or transfer to anyone, directly or indirectly, cluster munitions;

(c) Assist, encourage or induce anyone to engage in any activity prohibited to a State Party under this Convention.

The treaty allows certain types of weapons with submunitions that do not have the indiscriminate area effects or pose the same unexploded ordnance risks as cluster munitions. Permitted weapons must contain less than ten submunitions, and each must weigh more than 4 kilograms (8.8 lb), and each submunition must have the capability to detect and engage a single target object and contain electronic self-destruct and self-deactivation mechanisms. Weapons containing submunitions which all individually weigh at least 20 kg (44.1 lb) are also excluded. A limited number of prohibited weapons and submunitions can be acquired and kept for training in, and development of, detection, clearance and destruction techniques and counter-measures.


The impetus for the treaty, like that of the 1997 Ottawa Treaty
Ottawa Treaty
The Ottawa Treaty or the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, officially known as the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction, aims at eliminating anti-personnel landmines around the world. , there were 158...

 to ban landmines, has been concern over the severe damage and risks to civilians from explosive weapons
Explosive weapons
An explosive weapon generally uses high explosive to project blast and/or fragmentation from a point of detonation.Explosive weapons may be subdivided by their method of manufacture into explosive ordnance and improvised explosive devices ....

 during and long after attacks. A varying proportion of submunitions dispersed by cluster bombs fail to explode on impact and can lie unexploded for years until disturbed. The sometimes brightly colored munitions are not camouflaged, but have been compared to toys or Easter egg
Easter egg
Easter eggs are special eggs that are often given to celebrate Easter or springtime.The oldest tradition is to use dyed or painted chicken eggs, but a modern custom is to substitute chocolate eggs, or plastic eggs filled with confectionery such as jelly beans...

s, attracting children at play. Human rights
Human rights
Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

 activists claim that one in four casualties resulting from submunitions that fail to explode on impact are children who often pick up and play with the explosive canisters well after the conflict has ended. The 2006 Lebanon War provided momentum for the campaign to ban cluster bombs. The United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 estimated that up to 40% of Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

i cluster bomblets failed to explode on impact. Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

 organized the independent Oslo process after discussions at the traditional disarmament forum in Geneva
Geneva In the national languages of Switzerland the city is known as Genf , Ginevra and Genevra is the second-most-populous city in Switzerland and is the most populous city of Romandie, the French-speaking part of Switzerland...

 fell through in November 2006.

The cluster munitions ban process, also known as the Oslo Process, began in February 2007 in Oslo. At this time, 46 nations issued the "Oslo Declaration", committing themselves to:
Conclude by 2008 a legally binding international instrument that prohibits the use and stockpiling of cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm to civilians and secure adequate provision of care and rehabilitation to survivors and clearance of contaminated areas.

The Oslo Process held meetings in Lima
Lima is the capital and the largest city of Peru. It is located in the valleys of the Chillón, Rímac and Lurín rivers, in the central part of the country, on a desert coast overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Together with the seaport of Callao, it forms a contiguous urban area known as the Lima...

 in May 2007 and Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

 in December 2007. In February 2008, 79 countries adopted the "Wellington Declaration", setting forth the principles to be included in the convention.

Adoption of the convention

Delegates from 107 nations agreed to the final draft of the treaty at the end of a ten-day meeting held in May 2008 in Dublin, Ireland. Its text was formally adopted on 2008 by 107 nations, including 7 of the 14 countries that have used cluster bombs and 17 of the 34 countries that have produced them.

The treaty was opposed by a number of countries that produce or stockpile significant quantities of cluster munitions, including China, Russia, the United States, India, Israel, Pakistan and Brazil. The U.S. has acknowledged humanitarian concerns about the use of cluster munitions, but insisted that the proper venue for a discussion of cluster munitions was the forum attached to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons
Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons
The United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons , concluded at Geneva on October 10, 1980 and entered into force in December 1983, seeks to prohibit or restrict the use of certain conventional weapons which are considered excessively injurious or whose effects are indiscriminate.The...

, which includes all major military powers. The U.S. has further stated that the development and introduction of "smart" cluster munitions
Precision-guided munition
A precision-guided munition is a guided munition intended to precisely hit a specific target, and to minimize damage to things other than the target....

, where each submunition contains its own targeting and guidance system as well as an auto-self-destruct mechanism, means that the problematic munitions are being moved away from in any case. In 2006, Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

 voted to support a legislative measure to limit use of the bombs, while his general election opponent John McCain
John McCain
John Sidney McCain III is the senior United States Senator from Arizona. He was the Republican nominee for president in the 2008 United States election....

 and his primary
United States presidential primary
The series of presidential primary elections and caucuses is one of the first steps in the process of electing the President of the United States of America. The primary elections are run by state and local governments, while caucuses are private events run by the political parties...

 opponent Hillary Clinton (now U.S. Secretary of State) both voted against it. According to the Pentagon’s 2008 policy, cluster munitions are actually humane weapons. “Because future adversaries will likely use civilian shields for military targets – for example by locating a military target on the roof of an occupied building – use of unitary weapons could result in more civilian casualties and damage than cluster munitions,” the policy claims. “Blanket elimination of cluster munitions is therefore unacceptable due not only to negative military consequences but also due to potential negative consequences for civilians.”

The treaty allows certain types of weapons with submunitions that do not have the indiscriminate area effects or pose the same unexploded ordnance risks as the prohibited weapons. These must contain no more than nine submunitions, and no submunition may weigh less than 4 kilograms (8.8 lb). Each submunition must have the capability to detect and engage a single target object and contain electronic self-destruct and self-deactivation devices. Weapons containing submunitions which each weigh at least 20 kg (44.1 lb) are also excluded. Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, which supports the treaty, stated that the convention does not prohibit the SMArt 155
SMArt 155
SMArt 155 is a German 155 mm artillery round, designed for a long range, indirect fire top attack role against armoured vehicles. The SMArt carrier shell contains two submunitions, which descend over the battlefield on ballutes and attack hardened targets with explosively formed penetrator...

 artillery shell that it has bought, which releases two self-guided self-destructing submunitions.

In response to U.S. lobbying, and also concerns raised by diplomats from Australia, Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

, the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 and others, the treaty includes a provision allowing signatory nations to cooperate militarily with non-signatory nations. This provision is designed to provide legal protections to the military personnel of signatory nations engaged in military operations with the U.S. or other non-signatory nations that might use cluster munitions. David Miliband, who was Britain's foreign secretary under Labour, approved the use of a loophole to manoeuvre around the ban and allow the US to keep the munitions on British territory.

Prior to the Dublin meeting, the United Kingdom was thought to be one of a group of nations in a pivotal role whereby their cooperation could make or break the treaty. In a dramatic turn of events shortly before the end of the conference, Prime Minister Gordon Brown
Gordon Brown
James Gordon Brown is a British Labour Party politician who was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Labour Party from 2007 until 2010. He previously served as Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Labour Government from 1997 to 2007...

 declared that the U.K. would withdraw all of its cluster bombs from service. This was done despite intense behind-the-scenes lobbying by the U.S. and objections by British government personnel who saw utility in the weapons.

The CCM was opened for signature at a ceremony at Oslo City Hall on 3– 2008. By the end of the ceremony, 94 states had signed the treaty, including four (Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

, the Holy See
Holy See
The Holy See is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, in which its Bishop is commonly known as the Pope. It is the preeminent episcopal see of the Catholic Church, forming the central government of the Church. As such, diplomatically, and in other spheres the Holy See acts and...

, Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone , officially the Republic of Sierra Leone, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Guinea to the north and east, Liberia to the southeast, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west and southwest. Sierra Leone covers a total area of and has an estimated population between 5.4 and 6.4...

 and Norway) which had also submitted their instruments of ratification. Signatories included 21 of the 27 member-states of the European Union
Member State of the European Union
A member state of the European Union is a state that is party to treaties of the European Union and has thereby undertaken the privileges and obligations that EU membership entails. Unlike membership of an international organisation, being an EU member state places a country under binding laws in...

 and 18 of the 26 countries in NATO. Among the signatories were several states affected by cluster munitions, including Laos
Laos Lao: ສາທາລະນະລັດ ປະຊາທິປະໄຕ ປະຊາຊົນລາວ Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao, officially the Lao People's Democratic Republic, is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, bordered by Burma and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south and Thailand to the west...

 and Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...


In November 2008, ahead of the signing Conference in Oslo, the European Parliament
European Parliament
The European Parliament is the directly elected parliamentary institution of the European Union . Together with the Council of the European Union and the Commission, it exercises the legislative function of the EU and it has been described as one of the most powerful legislatures in the world...

 passed a resolution calling on all European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 governments to sign and ratify the Convention, as several EU countries had not yet declared their intention to do so. Finland had declared it would not sign.

Entry into force

According to article 17 of the treaty, the convention entered into force "on the first day of the sixth month after the month in which the thirtieth instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession has been deposited". Since the thirtieth ratification was deposited during February 2010, the convention entered into force on 2010; by that point, 38 nations had ratified the treaty.

As the convention entered into force, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
Ban Ki-moon
Ban Ki-moon is the eighth and current Secretary-General of the United Nations, after succeeding Kofi Annan in 2007. Before going on to be Secretary-General, Ban was a career diplomat in South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in the United Nations. He entered diplomatic service the year he...

 spoke of "not only the world's collective revulsion at these abhorrent weapons, but also the power of collaboration among governments, civil society and the United Nations to change attitudes and policies on a threat faced by all humankind". A spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross
International Committee of the Red Cross
The International Committee of the Red Cross is a private humanitarian institution based in Geneva, Switzerland. States parties to the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols of 1977 and 2005, have given the ICRC a mandate to protect the victims of international and...

 said "These weapons are a relic of the Cold War. They are a legacy that has to be eliminated because they increasingly won't work". Nobel peace prize
Nobel Peace Prize
The Nobel Peace Prize is one of the five Nobel Prizes bequeathed by the Swedish industrialist and inventor Alfred Nobel.-Background:According to Nobel's will, the Peace Prize shall be awarded to the person who...

 winner Jody Williams
Jody Williams
Jody Williams is an American teacher and aid worker who received the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize jointly with the campaign she worked for, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines...

 called the convention "the most important disarmament and humanitarian convention in over a decade".

Anti-cluster munitions campaigners praised the rapid progress made in the adoption of the convention, and expressed hope that even non-signatories – such as the US, China and Russia – would be discouraged from using the weapons by the entry into force of the convention. As one of the countries that did not ratify the treaty, the United States said that cluster bombs are a legal form of weapon, and that they had a "clear military utility in combat." It also said that compared to other types of weapons, cluster bombs are less harmful to civilians.

Article 11 requires the first Meeting of States Parties to be held within 12 months of the entry into force. The first such meeting was held in Laos
Laos Lao: ສາທາລະນະລັດ ປະຊາທິປະໄຕ ປະຊາຊົນລາວ Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao, officially the Lao People's Democratic Republic, is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, bordered by Burma and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south and Thailand to the west...

 in November 2010.

States Parties

As of 18 September 2011 there are 63 States Parties to the Convention.
State Party Signed Ratified or acceded Entered into force
 Antigua and Barbuda
 Bosnia and Herzegovina
 Kingdom of Bulgaria
 Burkina Faso
 Cape Verde
 Cook Islands
 Costa Rica
 Independent State of Croatia
 El Salvador
 Early Modern France
 Republic of Ireland
 Republic of Macedonia
 Kingdom of Montenegro
 New Zealand
 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
 San Marino
 Sierra Leone
 United Kingdom
 Vatican City

See also

  • Arms control
    Arms control
    Arms control is an umbrella term for restrictions upon the development, production, stockpiling, proliferation, and usage of weapons, especially weapons of mass destruction...

  • Lawfare
    Lawfare is a recently coined word not yet appearing in the Oxford English Dictionary, a portmanteau of the words 'law' and 'warfare', said to describe a form of asymmetric warfare...

  • Human Rights Watch
    Human Rights Watch
    Human Rights Watch is an international non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. Its headquarters are in New York City and it has offices in Berlin, Beirut, Brussels, Chicago, Geneva, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Moscow, Paris, San Francisco, Tokyo,...

  • Handicap International
    Handicap International
    Handicap International is a non-governmental organization created in 1982 to provide help in refugee camps in Cambodia and Thailand. Based in Belgium and France, it has since opened branches in six other countries : Switzerland, Luxembourg, United Kingdom, Germany, Canada and the United States...

External links


Non-governmental organisations
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