Banning Cluster Munitions: Government Policy and Practice


The period from 2006 until the end of 2008 saw dramatic changes in the positions of many governments on the military necessity and legality of cluster munitions. In a shift of international opinion, dozens of nations went from an adamant defense of the weapon to a full embrace of a comprehensive prohibition.

Initiated by the government of Norway in November 2006, the Oslo Process provided a fast-track multilateral response to the humanitarian problems posed by cluster munitions. A hallmark of the Oslo Process was the broad partnership between a range of actors—governments, key international organizations such as the ICRC and UN agencies, and civil society groups united under the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC)—all working for the same goal.

The outcome of this process is the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions. The convention combines categorical prohibitions on the use, production, stockpiling, and transfer of cluster munitions, with obligations to assist cluster munition victims, clear contaminated land, and provide international support for these humanitarian objectives. It was negotiated and adopted by 107 nations in Dublin in May 2008, and opened for signature in Oslo on 3 December 2008. As of April 2009, a total of 96 governments had signed the convention, and six had ratified.

This report charts the development of government policy and practice with respect to banning cluster munitions in the lead up to and during the Oslo Process. This introduction provides an overview of the Oslo Process and serves as a background to key—and often contentious—issues that appeared during the development of the convention. This introduction does not seek to provide a comprehensive account, but serves to support the country sections that are the basis of this report.[1]

Cluster Munitions

Cluster munitions are weapons that scatter explosive submunitions across a wide area. Dropped from aircraft or fired from the ground, a container munition opens in the air and releases the smaller submunitions to explode across the area below. The number of submunitions packed into a container range from fewer than ten to many hundreds.

Cluster munitions have been singled out for criticism on the basis of two problematic characteristics. Due to the way in which they scatter many small submunitions, these weapons have a tendency to strike both military and civilian populations and objects when used near populated areas. Furthermore, cluster munitions have consistently left large numbers of submunitions unexploded, but still dangerous, in the post-conflict environment. Often compared to antipersonnel mines, these unexploded submunitions have impeded access to community resources and caused death and injury to civilians long after conflict has ceased.

History of the Humanitarian Response

Humanitarian concerns have been raised about cluster munitions since the 1960s, and the 1970s saw the first government-backed proposals for a prohibition. These unsuccessful efforts were primarily a response to the widespread use of cluster munitions in Southeast Asia. The proponents of a ban at that time did not know that unexploded submunitions from these cluster munitions would still be killing and injuring civilians in Lao PDR, Vietnam, and Cambodia more than four decades later.

In 1999, the use of cluster bombs by NATO in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia—particularly in Kosovo and Serbia—caused civilian casualties at the time of use and afterwards, rekindling international concern over these weapons.[2] This took place in the wake of the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty and as a community of humanitarian actors was developing and expanding the mine action sector.[3] In the period that followed, on-the-ground research from Human Rights Watch, Landmine Action, the Mennonite Central Committee, Handicap International, and the ICRC provided an important basis for efforts to change state policies and practices.[4]

Spurred largely by concerns about cluster munitions, the ICRC and other NGOs pressed governments to take up the issue of explosive remnants of war (ERW) in the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW).[5] At a December 1999 CCW meeting, Human Rights Watch first called for a global moratorium on the use of all cluster munitions.[6] From 2000–2003, CCW States Parties initially discussed and then negotiated on the issue of ERW.

Large-scale use of cluster munitions in Afghanistan in 2001–2002 and in Iraq in 2003 deepened the recognition of the humanitarian and legal problems posed by these weapons. In Afghanistan, the United States dropped some 248,000 submunitions causing dozens of avoidable civilian casualties, including more than 120 in the first year after the strikes.[7] In Iraq, Human Rights Watch concluded that two million submunitions used by the US and United Kingdom caused hundreds of civilian casualties during the 2003 invasion, more than any other weapon (other than small arms fire).[8]

In response to these developments, NGOs involved in the landmine ban movement met in Ireland in April 2003 and agreed to undertake sustained and coordinated campaigning against cluster munitions. On 13 November 2003, the CMC was launched in The Hague. The CMC was united behind a call for an immediate moratorium on the use of cluster munitions, an acknowledgement of states’ responsibility for the explosive remnants they cause, and a commitment to provide resources to areas affected by ERW.

On 28 November 2003, States Parties to the CCW adopted Protocol V on Explosive Remnants of War. This protocol reinforced the principle that states bear a responsibility for the post-conflict harm caused by their weapons, but it was insufficient for tackling the specific challenges caused by cluster munitions both during and after attacks.

From 2004–2006, the CMC continued to press for meaningful work on cluster munitions in the CCW, but with only minimal progress, as most States Parties were still against anything more than technical discussions on the weapon as part of broader talks on ERW. The CMC also pushed for measures at the national level, and results were more encouraging. Most notably, Belgium in February 2006 became the first country to pass legislation banning cluster munitions, and Norway declared a moratorium on use in June 2006. For its part, the CMC continued to expand in size and strength, particularly with the decision of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) to join the CMC and work on cluster munitions.

Against this background, Israel’s massive use of cluster munitions in south Lebanon in July and August 2006 provoked a moral outcry. According the UN, Israel fired some four million submunitions into Lebanon leaving behind as many as one million duds.[9] A massive clearance operation was required, supported by risk education and victim assistance. As well as being part of this practical response, CMC organizations were able to rapidly document the impact of these weapons on individuals and communities, which stood in stark contrast to the arguements offered by many governments that existing legal rules were sufficient.[10]

Israel’s use of cluster munitions in Lebanon provided a catalyst for diplomatic action, starting in the CCW. The CCW’s Third Review Conference in November 2006 was viewed as a critical test of its ability to address a pressing humanitarian issue. In his message to the conference, then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan issued a statement calling for a “freeze” on the use of cluster munitions in populated areas and the destruction of “inaccurate and unreliable” cluster munitions.[11] Twenty-six nations supported a proposal for a mandate to negotiate a legally-binding instrument “that addresses the humanitarian concerns posed by cluster munitions.”[12] After the proposal was rejected, 25 countries issued a joint declaration calling for an agreement that would prohibit the use of cluster munitions “within concentrations of civilians,” prohibit the use of cluster munitions that “pose serious humanitarian hazards because they are for example unreliable and/or inaccurate,” and require destruction of stockpiles of such cluster munitions.[13]

On 17 November 2006, the final day of the Review Conference, Norway announced that it would start an independent process outside the CCW to negotiate a cluster munition treaty and invited other governments to join, thus initiating what became known as the Oslo Process.[14] That same day Norway’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Jonas Gahr Støre announced that Norway would convene an international conference to launch the process, stating, “We must take advantage of the political will now evident in many countries to prohibit cluster munitions that cause unacceptable humanitarian harm. The time is ripe to establish broad cooperation on a concerted effort to achieve a ban.”[15] The CCW had failed a crucial test. Far from agreeing to negotiate a legally-binding instrument, it opted to continue general discussions on ERW, with the US, Russia and others strongly opposing any specific work toward new rules regarding cluster munitions.

The Oslo Process

A total of 49 countries, as well as representatives of several UN agencies, the ICRC, and the CMC, participated in the Oslo Conference on Cluster Munitions held 22–23 February 2007.[16] The conference ended with 46 states endorsing the Oslo Declaration, a statement of intent to conclude by 2008 a legally-binding instrument prohibiting the use, production, stockpiling, and transfer “of cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm to civilians” and providing a framework to address the humanitarian problems that these weapons have already caused.[17]

The Oslo Declaration provided a roadmap for the process to develop and negotiate the convention, with an ambitious series of international diplomatic meetings planned in Peru, Austria, New Zealand, and Ireland. The Declaration was intentionally ambiguous as to whether the future instrument would prohibit all cluster munitions, or only on certain types, with differing views strongly expressed on both sides.

Prior to the Oslo conference, Norway had identified governments willing to participate in a small voluntary Core Group to provide the leadership and resources necessary to steer the Oslo Process. The Core Group was comprised of Norway, Austria, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, and, later, the Holy See. UNDP emerged to provide support in ensuring developing country participation in Oslo Process meetings, but the burden of spearheading and resourcing this diplomatic initiative outside of traditional UN-facilitated fora largely fell on Core Group members.

The Oslo conference was followed on 15 March 2007 by a Southeast Asia regional conference on cluster munitions held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.[18] This was the first in a series of regional meetings aimed at encouraging greater engagement in the Oslo Process and discussing humanitarian and technical considerations for the eventual convention.

The ICRC convened an experts meeting in Montreux, Switzerland on 18–20 April 2007. Attended by military, diplomatic, field, and NGO experts from states both inside and outside the Oslo Process, this meeting broadly agreed on the humanitarian problems caused by cluster munitions, but cast doubt on the potential for technical “improvements” to the weapon and did not provide answers to the growing skepticism about their remaining military utility.[19]

The next international meeting took place in Lima, Peru from 23–25 May 2007. Representatives of 67 states attended the Lima conference, with 27 participating in the Oslo Process for the first time, including many African nations.[20] A draft text of the future convention was introduced for discussion. Largely modeled on the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, the text covered the twin pillars of prohibition and humanitarian response. While specific treaty language was not discussed, the participants reached broad agreement on the framework and essential elements of the future convention: a prohibition on use, production, and trade; requirements and deadlines for stockpile destruction and clearance of contaminated areas; and an obligation to provide victim assistance.

The text adopted a categorical prohibition on cluster munitions, but excluded those with submunitions that detect and engage point targets. Some states also proposed exempting large categories of submunitions from the ban, such as those that have self-destruct devices or a specific reliability rate. The text also notably included a dedicated article on victim assistance, which would subsequently be refined into a ground-breaking set of obligations.

Following Lima, other meetings were held to encourage states to join the Oslo Process and to build an understanding of the aims of the proposed convention. (For more details on individual meetings, see the entries for the host country in this report). Eighteen countries from Latin America attended a regional conference in San José, Costa Rica on 4–5 September 2007.[21] On 3–4 October 2007, Serbia hosted the Belgrade Conference for States Affected by Cluster Munitions, which provided an opportunity for countries that had suffered the humanitarian impact of cluster munitions to discuss their experiences and expectations for an effective treaty.[22] The Belgrade conference saw the emergence of cluster munition survivors advocating for a strong treaty, such as former Serb deminer Branislav Kapetanovic.[23] At a regional conference held in Brussels, Belgium on 30 October, European states discussed a range of issues on cluster munitions, particularly stockpile destruction and victim assistance.[24]

On 5 November 2007, the CMC held its first Global Day of Action on Cluster Munitions. Campaigners in New Zealand kicked off a chain of events in 30 countries across the world with a cluster “bombing” stunt that saw a plane drop thousands of cluster bomb shaped flyers over the capital of Wellington.[25]

Back in Geneva in November 2007—after another year of discussions on cluster munitions in the CCW, and after a draft treaty text had been produced in the Oslo Process—CCW States Parties could still not agree on a mandate to negotiate a legally-binding instrument on cluster munitions. Instead, they agreed to “negotiate a proposal.” States opposed to any sort of prohibition on cluster munitions continued to look to the CCW as an alternative to the Oslo Process, if only for public relations and diplomatic cover. Some states involved in the Oslo Process also continued to express a preference for working in the CCW.

Austria hosted the next international Oslo Process conference in Vienna on 5–7 December 2007. Austria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs began the meeting by announcing that the Parliament was adopting a national law banning cluster munitions. Government representatives from an astounding 138 nations and civil society participants from 50 countries attended the Vienna conference, providing a strong expression of the momentum that the Oslo Process had achieved during its first year.[26]

The conference produced an emerging consensus on important provisions in the future convention, including victim assistance, clearance, stockpile destruction, and international cooperation and assistance. However, it also became apparent that battle lines were being drawn around a number of issues, particularly the definition, a transition period during which key obligations would not take effect, and “interoperability” (joint military operations with states not party).

For the Vienna conference, the Core Group revised the draft convention text based on input from the Lima conference. Perhaps most notably, the new draft maintained the categorical prohibition on cluster munitions, but instead of the explicit exclusion for certain munitions that had been contained in the Lima text, a place marker was inserted for states to make their case for specific exclusions from prohibition for cluster munitions they believed did not cause “unacceptable harm.”

In a key development, Norwegian People’s Aid, the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment and Colin King Associates launched a detailed report that debunked the claims of 99% reliability for the M85 submunition, a self-destructing type used extensively by Israel in south Lebanon, and one identical or similar to those a significant number of governments wished to see exempted from the prohibition.[27]

In Vienna, a number of states began to raise concerns about how the proposed treaty would affect their ability to participate in military partnerships with states that continued to consider cluster munitions legitimate weapons. The US was the prime example at the center of this issue of “interoperability” which focused mainly on the proposed prohibition on assisting, encouraging, or inducing anyone to engage in any activity prohibited to a State Party under the convention. Some argued that this prohibition, though nearly identical to one in the Mine Ban Treaty, would expose military planners and commanders to legal risks and make it impossible to conduct joint operations with states that retained cluster munitions in their arsenals. Others, including the CMC, viewed a prohibition on “assistance” as fundamental to the moral and practical coherence of the prohibitions, supported by the precedent of the Mine Ban Treaty.

The Vienna discussion text also introduced a special legal responsibility for past users of cluster munitions to provide assistance to states where these weapons had been used. With some refinements at subsequent meetings this innovation was retained in the final convention text as a politically-binding obligation. It is an important reinforcement of state responsibility to take precautions to protect civilian populations from the unintended effects of explosive weapons.

The final international Oslo Process conference prior to the formal negotiations was in Wellington, New Zealand from 18–22 February 2008. A total of 106 governments attended, making it the largest disarmament meeting ever held in the country. Several states participated for the first time in the Oslo Process including nine from the Pacific region.[28] A delegation of 142 civil society participants from 43 countries—a quarter of them New Zealanders—attended the meeting.

The Wellington conference was the most contentious of the Oslo Process meetings. It had the atmosphere of high-stakes negotiations as states discussed the draft convention text that had again been revised by the Core Group following the Vienna conference. In intense plenary sessions and break-out discussions, numerous countries—most notably those who called themselves the “like-minded group”[29]—submitted proposals to amend the draft convention text. Most of the proposals from the like-minded group, especially those calling for exceptions or exclusions from the prohibition (the definition issue), a transition period, and provisions to facilitate interoperability, were strongly criticized by the CMC—as well as many states and the ICRC—as weakening the draft convention text.

At the end of the meeting, the like-minded group expressed dissatisfaction, asserting that their opinions and views had not been taken into account in a balanced way. Many other states, notably those affected by cluster munitions, particularly Cambodia, Lao PDR, and Lebanon, spoke out strongly in favor of the draft text and the open and inclusive approach of the conference, as did others in the developing world, such as Indonesia. In a creative solution, the draft convention text was kept unchanged and forwarded to Dublin as the basis for negotiations, while the proposals were compiled into an attached “Compendium” for further consideration.

A total of 82 governments endorsed the Wellington Declaration on 22 February, a number that increased as the negotiations drew closer. The Wellington Declaration committed states to negotiate the convention in Dublin using the Wellington draft text as the basis for negotiations. In order to participate fully in the negotiations, a state had to endorse the Wellington Declaration.

In Wellington, states also considered the draft “Rules of Procedure” for the negotiations. Once approved in Dublin, these rules would continue the Mine Ban Treaty precedent of allowing NGOs such as the CMC inside the formal talks with official observer status. Perhaps more importantly, according to the rules, any state wishing to change the draft text had to have the support of a two-thirds majority of governments participating in the negotiations for the proposed amendment to be accepted. While no votes were required in Dublin, the possibility that a vote could be used was a turnaround from the consensus-bound diplomacy of the CCW.

In the weeks leading up to the Dublin negotiations, regional conferences on cluster munitions were held in Livingston, Zambia (31 March–1 April) and Mexico City, Mexico (16–17 April) to build solidarity and increase understanding of key issues.[30] In addition, the ICRC hosted a meeting in Bangkok, Thailand (24–25 April).[31] On 19 April 2008, the CMC held its second Global Day of Action with campaign activities in more than 50 countries. Faith leaders and representatives of faith groups across the world pushed for a strong treaty to ban cluster munitions.[32]

The Dublin Negotiations

From 19–30 May 2008, Ireland hosted the Dublin Diplomatic Conference on Cluster Munitions at Croke Park Stadium, a massive Gaelic football stadium. A total of 127 states attended the formal negotiations, including 107 as full participants and 20 as observers. The president of the negotiations, Ambassador Daithi O’Ceallaigh of Ireland, started the conference with a detailed article-by-article discussion of the draft text. When it was not possible to reach general agreement in plenary (the Committee of the Whole), Ambassador O’Ceallaigh appointed fellow diplomats to hold informal consultations. By the end of the first week, Friends of the President were consultating on issues relating to interoperability, definitions, stockpiling, clearance, victim assistance, and compliance.[33]

The atmosphere in Dublin from the beginning was a constructive one, with states now more prepared to find solutions than to demand concessions. Still, there were stark differences among the negotiating states on a range of issues, especially definitions, a transition period, and interoperability, but also on the length of deadlines for stockpile destruction and clearance, the desirability of a possible extension of the deadline for stockpile destruction, whether to have a provision allowing retention of cluster munitions and submunitions for training and development purposes, the acceptability of special responsibilities for past users of cluster munitions, how far-reaching the victim assistance provisions could be, and the number of ratifications required to trigger entry into force.

The positions of a substantial number of states on many of these issues shifted dramatically either just before or during the negotiations, including nearly all of the members of the like-minded group, perhaps most notably the UK, France, and Germany. (See individual country entries in this report for details.)

On 28 May, Ambassador O’Ceallaigh introduced a Presidency Paper containing a consolidated draft treaty text, which he described as “extremely ambitious” and said represented “the best balance of interests and compromise consistent with the Oslo Declaration.”[34]

A total of 71 states spoke in support of the draft text with varying degrees of enthusiasm, but with none indicating they could not adopt it. The CMC described the text as “extraordinary” and said it was “certain to save thousands and thousands of civilian lives for decades to come, and to provide both immediate and long-term relief and assistance to those already affected by the weapon.”[35] On 30 May 2008, a total of 107 states formally adopted the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions by acclamation, with none of the full participants declining to adopt.

The CMC delegation to the Dublin conference was comprised of 284 campaigners from 61 countries, including more than a dozen cluster munition and landmine survivors from Afghanistan, Cambodia, Iraq, Serbia, Tajikistan, Vietnam, and Western Sahara.[36] During the conference, the CMC carried out a wide range of lobbying work, media outreach, and public events at the Croke Park venue and in the city of Dublin. CMC delegates undertook intense lobbying on all of the specific provisions of the treaty, provided technical advice to the diplomats, made interventions in the formal sessions and disseminated materials including critiques of treaty proposals. The exemplary partnership between governments and civil society—particularly the dynamic work of cluster munition survivors—was widely heralded as underpinning the success of the negotiation process.

The Convention on Cluster Munitions

A landmark legal instrument, the Convention on Cluster Munitions bans cluster munitions as an entire category of weapon.[37] It is comprehensive in its approach, both from the disarmament perspective—a categorical ban on use, production, and trade, and a requirement and deadline for stockpile destruction—and from the practical humanitarian perspective—with a requirement and deadline for clearance of contaminated areas, and requirements for risk education, victim assistance, and international support for these on-the-ground humanitarian actions.

The degree to which many states shifted their views during the Oslo Process and the negotiations themselves is reflected in what the convention does not contain. There are no broad exceptions for cluster munitions with submunitions that self-destruct or have a certain claimed reliability rate or that are “direct fire” weapons. There is no transition period during which banned cluster munitions could still be used. During most of the Oslo Process, these were key demands from numerous countries, including the bigger military powers such as the UK and France. In the end, these countries and others agreed that such provisions were unacceptable from a humanitarian perspective.

The two most hotly debated issues were definitions and interoperability. While some states called for a prohibition on any weapon with submunitions, negotiators in the end agreed that certain weapons that contain submunitions are not likely to have the same negative effects that make cluster munitions objectionable, that is, indiscriminate area effects and risks posed by unexploded ordnance (UXO), and therefore these weapons should not be considered cluster munitions. In order to avoid these effects, weapons excluded from prohibition must contain a limited number of submunitions that each detect and engage “a single target object,” rather than scattering across an area. They must have other safeguards relating to weight, and self-destruct and self-deactivating mechanisms to avoid the risk of UXO.[38] The CMC has maintained that the burden of proof is on producers, stockpilers, and users to demonstrate that such weapons do not and cannot function as cluster munitions, and has asserted that such weapons should be closely monitored by humanitarian organizations in the future.

On the contentious issue of interoperability, states agreed to the insertion of a new Article 21 on “Relations with States not Party to this Convention” which was strongly criticized by the CMC for being politically motivated and for leaving a degree of ambiguity about how the prohibition on assistance with prohibited acts would be applied in joint military operations.[39] However, the article also requires States Parties to discourage use of cluster munitions by those not party and to encourage them to join the convention.

The convention’s articles on clearance, victim assistance and international cooperation and assistance have been applauded for building upon and improving similar provisions in the Mine Ban Treaty. These articles further extend the responsibilities of states to protect populations from the effects of armed conflict. In particular, Article 6 on Victim Assistance constitutes a ground-breaking step forward in articulating the rights of victims and the responsibilities of governments toward the fulfillment of those rights.

In a number of other important areas, the Convention on Cluster Munitions improved upon provisions in the Mine Ban Treaty, taking advantage of the lessons learned from a decade of implementation. These include annual transparency reporting requirements, obligations to provide risk education, special responsibilities for past users of the weapon (retroactivity), and the mechanism for deadline extension requests.

Less frequently noted but important provisions drawn from the Mine Ban Treaty include the broad scope of application “under any circumstances,” the obligation to adopt national implementation measures including penal sanctions, a prohibition on reservations to any of the articles, and a prohibition on withdrawal from the treaty during armed conflict.

Elements of the convention that drew criticism and concern from the CMC and others included the provision allowing for an extension of the stockpile destruction deadline, the provision allowing retention of cluster munitions and submunitions for training and development purposes, and the lack of clarity about whether the prohibitions include transit of cluster munitions across the territory of a State Party, foreign stockpiling on the territory of a State Party, and investment in companies that produce cluster munitions.

From Adoption to Signature

The road from Dublin to Oslo, where the convention opened for signature on 3 December 2008, was not without challenges. In August 2008, Georgia and Russia both used cluster munitions in their conflict over South Ossetia, resulting in 70 civilian casualties and creating socio-economic harm. [40] Around the world, CMC protests and media editorials condemned this new use of cluster munition so soon after the convention’s adoption.

However, this period also saw intensive activities to ensure that as many states signed the convention in Oslo as possible. Regional conferences held in Sofia, Bulgaria (18–19 September), Kampala, Uganda (29–30 September), Xiengkhouang, Lao PDR (20–22 October), Quito, Ecuador (6–7 November) and Beirut, Lebanon (11–12 November) helped secure commitments to sign and also provided useful venues to begin considering treaty implementation.[41] On 1 October 2008, a “Ban Bus” of activists embarked on an eight week journey from the Balkans to Oslo to build support for the cluster munition ban in eighteen countries. The CMC’s Global Week of Action held from 27 October to 2 November saw CMC members in 74 countries campaign for a strong showing at the treaty in Oslo.[42]

On 3–4 December 2008—two years after the Oslo Process began—Norway welcomed states back to Oslo for the Convention on Cluster Munitions Signing Conference. Ministers and senior officials from 94 governments signed the convention at Oslo City Hall, applauded by a CMC delegation comprised of 250 campaigners from 75 countries. Four nations signed and ratified at the same time. Another 28 countries attended as observers but did not sign; they participated in the historic event to indicate their concern with the humanitarian aspects of cluster munitions, and many voiced the hope that they would soon be in a position to join the convention.[43]

At the signing conference, many countries made strong statements praising the convention for providing not only a high level of humanitarian protection, but for the bold and dynamic way in which it had been achieved. The partnership of governments, international organizations, and civil society, and the direct and determined work of cluster munition victims, demonstrated again that ground-breaking humanitarian achievements were possible. Many speakers emphasized that although a remarkable milestone had been reached, the convention’s work was only just beginning. Securing additional signatures and ratifications, and effective implementation of the convention’s provisions were required to turn the text into a life changing reality.

This report is part of that ongoing program of work. It provides a detailed record of the changes in state policies and practices during the remarkable period of the Oslo Process and provides a point of departure for the future work of monitoring implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

[1] For more detailed analysis of the development of the Oslo Process and of the convention itself, see for example: Stephen D. Goose, “Cluster Munitions in the Crosshairs: In Pursuit of a Prohibition,” in Jody Williams, Stephen D. Goose, and Mary Wareham (eds.), Banning Landmines: Disarmament, Citizen Diplomacy, and Human Security (USA: Rowman & Littlefield, 2008); Brian Rappert and Richard Moyes, “The Prohibition of Cluster Munitions: Setting International Precedents for Defining Inhumanity,” The Nonproliferation Review, Volume 16, Issue 2, 2009, forthcoming. The UN Institute for Disarmament Research is completing a comprehensive history of international efforts to address the humanitarian impacts of cluster munitions and, in particular, the Oslo Process. The book is expected to be available before the end of 2009.

[2] Human Rights Watch, “Ticking Time Bombs: NATO’s Use of Cluster Munitions in Yugoslavia,” vol. 11, no. 6(D), June 1999; Landmine Action, “Cluster munitions in Kosovo: Analysis of use, contamination and casualties,” London, February 2007; Norwegian People’s Aid, “Yellow Killers: The impact of cluster munitions in Serbia and Montenegro,” 2007; and Norwegian People’s Aid, “Report on the Impact of unexploded cluster munitions in Serbia,” January 2009.

[3] This included the concept of humanitarian mine action, with survey, clearance, risk education, and victim assistance as key pillars.

[4] See for example, Human Rights Watch, “Fatally Flawed: Cluster Bombs and Their Use by the United States in Afghanistan,” vol. 14, no. 7(G), December 2002; Human Rights Watch, “Off Target: The Conduct of the War and Civilian Casualties in Iraq,” November 2003; Landmine Action, “Cluster Bombs: The military effectiveness and impact on civilians of cluster munitions,” London, August 2000; Landmine Action, “Explosive Remnants of War: Unexploded ordnance and post-conflict communities,” London, March 2002; Mennonite Central Committee, “Clusters of Death,” 2000; ICRC, “Cluster bombs and Landmines in Kosovo,” Geneva, 2000, revised 2001; and Handicap International, “Circle of Impact: The Fatal Footprint of Cluster Munitions on People and Communities,” May 2007.

[5] ERW include cluster munition duds and all other types of explosive ordnance (such as bombs, rockets, mortars, grenades, and ammunition) that have been used in an armed conflict but failed to explode as intended, thereby posing ongoing dangers. ERW also includes abandoned explosive ordnance that has been left behind or dumped by a party to an armed conflict.

[6] Human Rights Watch, “Cluster Bombs: Memorandum for CCW Delegates,” 16 December 1999.

[7] Human Rights Watch, “Fatally Flawed: Cluster Bombs and Their Use by the United States in Afghanistan,” vol. 14, no. 7(G), December 2002.

[8] Human Rights Watch, Off Target: The Conduct of the War and Civilian Casualties in Iraq, (New York: HRW, 2003),

[9] UN Department of Public Information, “Press Conference by Emergency Relief Coordinator,” 30 August 2006, The UN has since indicated that the number of duds may be in the hundreds of thousands, but fall short of one million.

[10]Landmine Action, “Foreseeable harm: The use and impact of cluster munitions in Lebanon: 2006,” London, October 2006; Human Rights Watch, “Lebanon: Israeli Cluster Munitions Threaten Civilians,” Press release, 17 August 2006,; and Human Rights Watch, “Israeli Cluster Munitions Hit Civilians in Lebanon,” Press release, 24 July 2006,

[11] Statement of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Message to the Third Review Conference of the CCW, Geneva, 7 November 2006.

[12] Proposal for a Mandate to Negotiate a Legally-Binding Instrument that Addresses the Humanitarian Concerns Posed by Cluster Munitions, Presented by Austria, Holy See, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, and Sweden, Third Review Conference of the States Parties to the CCW, Geneva, CCW/CONF.III/WP.1, Geneva, 25 October 2006.

[13]Declaration on Cluster Munitions, Third Review Conference of the States Parties to the CCW, Geneva, CCW/CONF.III/WP.18, 17 November 2006.

[14] Statement by Amb. Steffen Kongstad, Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Third Review Conference of the States Parties to the CCW, Geneva, 17 November 2006.

[15] Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Norway takes the initiative for a ban on cluster munitions,” Press release, 17 November 2006,

[16] CMC, “Report, Oslo Conference on Cluster Munitions, 22–23 February 2007,”; and Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Oslo Conference on Cluster Munitions, 22–23 February 2007,”

[17] The three states choosing not to endorse the Declaration were Japan, Poland, and Romania. It was uncertain until the last moment if numerous other participants would endorse.

[18] ICBL, “Regional Forum in Southeast Asia, ‘Taking Action on Cluster Munitions,’” Press release, 26 March 2007,

[19] ICRC, “Humanitarian, Military, Technical and Legal Challenges of Cluster Munitions,” Summary Report of the ICRC Expert Meeting in Montreux, Switzerland, 18–20 April 2007,

[20] CMC, “CMC report on the Lima conference and next steps,” 2007,

[21] CMC, “San José Regional Conference on Cluster Munitions, 4–5 September 2007,”

[22] CMC, “Report on the Belgrade Conference, 3–4 October 2007,” Countries that attended were: Afghanistan, Albania, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Chad, Croatia, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Guinea-Bissau, Kuwait, Iraq, Laos, Lebanon, Montenegro, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Tajikistan, Uganda, Vietnam, and Yemen.

[23] For the first time, during the Belgrade Conference of Affected States in October 2007, a group of survivors from Albania, Lebanon, Serbia, and Tajikistan agreed to organize as a team to influence the Oslo Process under the coordination of Handicap International Belgium. The “Ban Advocates” created a blog to chart their activities throughout the Oslo Process:

[24] Werner Bauwens, Special Envoy for Disarmament and Nonproliferation of Belgium, “Report on the Brussels European Regional Conference on Cluster Munitions,”

[25] CMC, “Global public unites in a day of action to ban cluster bombs,” Press release, 5 November 2007,

[26] CMC, “Cluster bomb ban treaty: 138 nations make progress in Vienna,” Press release, 7 December 2007,

[27] Norwegian People’s Aid, the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment, and Colin King Associates, “M85: An analysis of reliability,” Oslo, 2007, The M85 is a “DPICM-type” submunition, fitted with a self-destruct mechanism. The report analyzed the performance of these submunitions in both testing and in combat to demonstrate how both mechanical “self-destruct” mechanisms and failure rate testing regimes failed to prevent humanitarian harm. The report and its presentation also set a precedent for the level of evidence and analysis that would be expected in future arguments on the definition.

[28] Aotearoa New Zealand CMC, “Report on Activities: Wellington Conference on Cluster Munitions, 18–22 February 2008,” April 2008,

[29] The like-minded group began to form during the Vienna conference. While it had no official status or membership, those supportive included Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK.

[30] CMC, “Report on the Livingstone Conference on Cluster Munitions, 31 March and 1 April 2008,”; CMC, “Report on the Mexico Regional Conference, 16–17 April 2008,”

[31] ICRC, “Southeast Asia Regional Meeting on Cluster Munitions, Summary Report,”

[32] CMC, “Global Day of Action to Ban Cluster Bombs – What Happened,”

[33] The Friends of the Chair were: interoperability (Amb. Christine Schraner of Switzerland), definitions (Amb. Don MacKay of New Zealand), stockpiling (Amb. Steffen Kongstad of Norway), clearance (Lt. Col. Jim Burke of Ireland), victim assistance (Markus Reiterer of Austria), and compliance (Xolisa Mabhongo of South Africa). During the second week, another Friend of the Chair was appointed for the preamble (Amb. Caroline Millar of Australia).

[34] Summary Record of the Committee of the Whole, Fifteenth Session: 28 May 2008, Dublin Diplomatic Conference on Cluster Munitions, CCM/CW/SR/15, 18 June 2008; and CMC, “Day 8 – Convention!!! – Dublin Diplomatic Conference,” 28 May 2008,

[35] CMC statement delivered by Stephen Goose, CMC Co-Chair, director of the Arms Division at Human Rights Watch, Dublin Diplomatic Conference, 28 May 2008, The CMC believed that “if the text had been opened up, it would have gotten stronger and not weaker,” but it respected the judgment of the president and many states that this was not the best way forward.

[36] Aotearoa New Zealand CMC, “Report on Activities: Dublin Conference on Cluster Munitions, 19–30 May 2008,” July 2008, p. 5,

[37] CMC, “CMC Briefing Paper on the Convention on Cluster Munitions,”; Human Rights Watch, “Twelve Facts and Fallacies about the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” April 2009,; and CMC, “The Convention on Cluster Munitions – Explained,”

[38] Article 2.2(c) excludes munitions with submunitions if they have less than 10 submunitions, and each submunition weighs more than 4kg, can detect and engage a single target object, and is equipped with electronic self-destruction and self-deactivation features. Only three existing weapons are thought to meet these criteria, SADARM, BONUS, and SMArt-155. The US stockpiles SADARM, but has stopped production. The US used SADARM in Iraq in 2003. BONUS, with two submunitions, is produced by Sweden, in partnership with France. SMArt-155, with two submunitions, is produced by Germany. Neither has been used in combat to date. The only other countries known to have the SMArt-155 are Greece and Switzerland, while Australia and the UK are in the process of procuring them. No other countries are known to possess BONUS. Human Rights Watch, “Twelve Facts and Fallacies about the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” April 2009,

[39] Article 21 says that States Parties “may engage in military cooperation and operations with States not party to this Convention that might engage in activities prohibited to a State Party.” It does not, however, negate a State Party’s obligations under Article 1 “never under any circumstances to…assist, encourage or induce anyone to engage in any activity prohibited to a State Party under this Convention.”

[40] Human Rights Watch, “A Dying Practice: Use of Cluster Munitions by Russia and Georgia in August 2008,” April 2009,

[41] CMC, “Report from the Sofia Regional Conference on the Convention on Cluster Munitions – The Way Forward, 18–19 September 2008,”; CMC, “Report on the Kampala Conference on the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” 30 September 2008,; CMC, “Southeast Asia Regional Conference on the Convention on Cluster Munitions,”; CMC, “Quito Regional Conference on the Convention on Cluster Munitions,”; and CMC, “Beirut Regional Conference on the Convention on Cluster Munitions,”

[42] CMC, “Global Week of Action to Ban Cluster Bombs, 27 October – 2 November 2008,”

[43] CMC, “Historic Treaty Bans Cluster Bombs and Stigmatizes Use,” Press release, 4 December 2008,; and CMC, “Convention on Cluster Munitions Signing Conference,”