Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 11 August 2015

Five-Year Review: Non-signatory Vietnam has expressed support for the convention’s humanitarian objectives, but states its concerns with key provisions of the convention must be overcome before it can accede. Vietnam has participated in nearly all of the convention’s meetings. In March 2015, a representative of the country’s national mine action program said it has recommended that Vietnam join the convention “as a mechanism for cooperation.”

Vietnam states that it has never used, produced, transferred, or stockpiled cluster munitions. The United States (US) used air-delivered cluster munitions extensively in Vietnam in the 1960s and 1970s.


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

In March 2015, the deputy head of the Vietnam Mine Action Program’s National Steering Committee told a regional meeting in Hanoi that “four days ago we put forward a recommendation to join the Convention on Cluster Munitions as a mechanism for cooperation. A working group has been set up to study the convention. We hope to see some progress this year.”[1]

Previously, in April 2014, Vietnam stated that it “welcomes the humanitarian objectives” of the Convention on Cluster Munitions and “continues exploring the possibilities of acceding” but will only join “when all sufficient conditions appropriate to the context of Vietnam are already created.” Vietnamese officials have regularly expressed the government’s support for the convention’s humanitarian aims and at the same time elaborated the reasons why it cannot join at present.[2]

Vietnam has expressed concern at certain provisions of the ban convention, such as the 10-year deadline to identify and clear areas contaminated by cluster munition remnants, as it says it will take Vietnam “some decades, even a hundred year[s] to fully complete the clearance.” Vietnam believes that the convention lacks a “mechanism” for ensuring international support and cooperation. It wants to see certain states join the convention, including “cluster munitions users, producers and exporters” that “must be responsible for assisting affected countries.”[3] In a February 2014 interview in The People’s Army Newspaper, Deputy Minister of Defence, Lt. Gen. Nguyen Chi Vinh, said that before Vietnam can accede to the convention it must “research and have an overall evaluation on interests, limits, roadmap, time frame and the most important thing: the resources to implement the contents of that convention.”[4]

Vietnam participated in two of the international Oslo Process diplomatic conferences to develop the convention text, but attended the formal negotiations in Dublin in May 2008 and the Oslo Signing Conference in December 2008 only as an observer.[5] It attended a regional conference on cluster munitions in Bali, Indonesia in 2009 and an international conference in Santiago, Chile in 2010.

Vietnam engages in the work of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, despite not acceding. It has participated as an observer in all of the convention’s Meetings of States Parties, except the Fifth Meeting of States Parties held in San José, Costa Rica in September 2014. Vietnam has attended of the convention’s intersessional meetings, except those held in June 2015.

Vietnam is not party to the Mine Ban Treaty. Vietnam signed the Convention on Conventional Weapons in 1981, but has not ratified any of its protocols.

Use, production, transfer, and stockpiling

In September 2012, Vietnam informed States Parties, “We do not produce, store, use or encourage to [sic] use cluster munitions.”[6]

In the past, some officials have said that Vietnam does not stockpile cluster munitions, but others were less certain.[7] A May 2010 position paper states that “foreign reports” show that Vietnam has never used, produced, transferred, or stockpiled cluster munitions.[8]

Jane’s Information Group cites the Vietnam Air Force as possessing KMGU submunition dispensers.[9]

The US used air-delivered cluster munitions extensively in Vietnam in the 1960s and 1970s. The 50th anniversary of the beginning of the US war in Vietnam in March 1965 has seen major media outlets cover the legacy of US cluster munition use in Vietnam.[10]

[1] Dong Dang Van, Deputy Chief of the National Steering Committee for the Vietnam Mine Action Program, in response to a question asked at a Red Cross Southeast Asia National Society Workshop on Implementation of the 2009 Movement Strategy on Landmines, Cluster Munitions, and other Explosive Remnants of War, Hanoi, 17 March 2015. Notes by the Monitor.

[2] In September 2012, Vietnam informed States Parties of its “strong support for the humanitarian goal of the Convention” but said it would “not be in a position to complete clearance under the Article 4 deadline of ten years.” Vietnam said “states who have produced, used or abandoned cluster munitions must be accountable for the implementation of obligations under the Convention, including the clearance and destruction of cluster munitions.” Statement of Vietnam, Convention on Cluster Munitions Third Meeting of States Parties, Oslo, 11 September 2012. In December 2011, Vietnam’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs emphasized that “Viet Nam believes that those responsibilities should be laid with countries that had produced, used and exported cluster munitions. Only when this matter is resolved in a fair manner can we assure the universalization and effective implementation of the Convention.” He also expressed concern with the convention’s ten-year deadline. For Vietnam as a state that is “seriously affected by cluster munitions and with limited resources.” Statement by Le Luong Minh, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, at the workshop on Joint Efforts in Mitigating the Consequences of Bomb and Mine Remnants of War, Hanoi, 5 December 2011.

[3] Statement of Vietnam, Convention on Cluster Munitions Intersessional Meetings, Geneva, 7 April 2014.

[4]Mine clearance needs both domestic, international resources,” Vietnam News Agency, 12 March 2014.

[5] For more details on Vietnam’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), pp. 261–262.

[6] Statement of Vietnam, Convention on Cluster Munitions Third Meeting of States Parties, Oslo, 11 September 2012.

[7] During the CMC mission in May 2010, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official said there were not stocks, but a Ministry of Defense official was not clear on the issue. Thomas Nash, “Report on Cluster Munition Coalition Visit to Vietnam, 10–11 May 2010.”

[8] “Vietnam’s Position on Cluster Munition Convention,” undated, provided to Aotearoa New Zealand Cluster Munition Coalition on 26 May 2010.

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

[10] See, for example: George Black, “The Lethal Legacy of the Vietnam War,” The Nation, 25 February 2015; and “U.S. veteran leads clean-up of Vietnam War’s lethal remnants,” PBS Newshour, 20 November 2014.