Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 26 August 2013

The Republic of Yemen has not acceded to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Yemen has not made a public statement explaining its position on joining the convention.

Yemen participated in two meetings of the Oslo Process that produced the convention (Lima in May 2007 and Belgrade in October 2007) and stated its support for work to prohibit cluster munitions.[1] It did not attend the negotiations of the convention in Dublin in May 2008 or the Convention on Cluster Munitions Signing Conference in Oslo in December 2008.[2]

In September 2011, Yemen participated in its first meeting of the convention when it attended the Second Meeting of States Parties in Beirut as an observer, but it did not make any statements. Yemen did not attend the convention’s Third Meeting of States Parties in Oslo in September 2012. Yemen was present at the convention’s intersessional meetings in Geneva in April 2013 but did not make any statements.

Yemen is a State Party to the Mine Ban Treaty. It is not party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons.

Use, production, transfer, and stockpiling

Yemen is not known to have used, produced, or exported cluster munitions.[3]

It appears that Yemen stockpiles cluster munitions. Jane’s Information Group reports that KMG-U dispensers that deploy submunitions are in service with the country’s air force.[4] Moldova exported 13 220mm Uragan multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) to Yemen in 1994, and Yemen possesses Grad 122mm surface-to-surface rocket launchers, but it is not known if the ammunition for these weapons includes versions with submunition payloads.[5]

In June 2010, Amnesty International (AI) reported that it appears the United States (US) used at least one ship- or submarine-launched TLAM-D cruise missile, which contains 166 BLU-97 submunitions, to attack a “training camp” in al-Ma‘jalah in the al-Mahfad district of Abyan governorate of Yemen on 17 December 2009. It said the attack killed 55 people, including 14 alleged members of the targeted “terrorist group,” as well as 14 women and 21 children.[6] Neither the US nor the Yemeni government has publicly responded to AI’s allegations. In December 2010, Wikileaks released a US Department of State cable dated 21 December 2009 that acknowledged the US had a role in the 17 December strike; the cable said that Yemeni government officials:

…continue to publicly maintain that the operation was conducted entirely by its forces, acknowledging U.S. support strictly in terms of intelligence sharing. Deputy Prime Minister Rashad al-Alimi told the Ambassador on December 20 that any evidence of greater U.S. involvement such as fragments of U.S. munitions found at the sites - could be explained away as equipment purchased from the U.S.[7]

The US has never exported the TLAM-D cruise missile.[8] The extent of any residual contamination from this reported cluster munition use is not known.

In July 2013, mine clearance operators in Yemen shared photographic evidence with the Monitor of cluster munition contamination in Sa‘daa governorate in northwestern Yemen near the border with Saudi Arabia. The contamination apparently dates from conflict in 2009–2010 between the government of Yemen and rebel forces led by Abdul-Malik al-Houthi.[9] Human Rights Watch has identified the remnants as unexploded BLU-97 bomblets, BLU-61 submunitions, and dual purpose improved conventional munition (DPICM) submunitions of an unknown origin.[10] Because the circumstances of the cluster munition use are not clear, it is not possible to determine definitively the actor responsible for the use.[11]


[1] Statement of Yemen, Lima Conference on Cluster Munitions, Session on Victim Assistance, 23 May 2008. Notes by Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.

[2] For details on Yemen’s cluster munition policy and practice up to early 2009, see Human Rights Watch and Landmine Action, Banning Cluster Munitions: Government Policy and Practice (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, May 2009), p. 262.

[3] There are unconfirmed reports that cluster munitions may have been used in the 1994 civil war.

[4] Robert Hewson, ed., Jane’s Air Launched Weapons, Issue 44 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 2004), p. 848.

[5] Submission of the Republic of Moldova, UN Register of Conventional Arms, Report for Calendar Year 1994, 28 April 1995; International Institute for Strategic Studies, The Military Balance 2011, (London: Routledge, 2011), p. 335; and Colin King, ed., Jane’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal 2008, CD-edition (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 2008).

[6] AI published a series of photographs showing the remnants of the cruise missile, including the propulsion system, a BLU-97 submunition, and the payload ejection system, the latter of which is unique to the TLAM-D cruise missile. See also, “U.S. missiles killed civilians in Yemen, rights group says,” CNN, 7 June 2010,

[7] “ROYG [Republic of Yemen Government] looks ahead following CT operations, but perhaps not far enough,” US Department of State cable SANAA 02230 dated 21 December 2009, released by Wikileaks on 4 December 2010,

[8] The TLAM-C cruise missile, which has a unitary warhead, has been bought by one country: the United Kingdom. There have been no other sales of this system by the US to foreign militaries. US Navy Fact File, “Tomahawk Cruise Missile,”

[9] Interview with Abdul Raqeeb Fare, Deputy Director, Yemen Executive Mine Action Center (YEMAC), Sanaa, 7 March 2013. Interview with Ali al-Kadri, Director YEMAC, in Geneva, 28 May 2013. Email from John Dingley, UNDP Yemen, 9 July 2013.

[10] The DPICM submunitions look like an M42 submunition, but the delivery method (surface-fired or air-launched) is unclear.

[11] Yemen is not known to possess these types of submunitions, but it has provided no information on its stockpiled cluster munitions. Saudi Arabia has supported Yemeni forces and is known to stockpile these weapons, so it could be responsible for the use. The US is another possibility. It is not conceivable that the rebels possess these weapons.