Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 03 August 2016

Summary: Signatory Nigeria has said it intends to ratify the convention, but it has not taken any steps towards ratification other than stakeholder consultations. Nigeria has participated in most of the convention’s annual meetings and attended the First Review Conference in September 2015. It voted in favor of a UN resolution on the convention in December 2015.

Nigeria is not known to have produced or exported cluster munitions, but imported them in the past and possesses a stockpile. In 2015 and 2016, Nigeria alleged that Boko Haram are creating improvised explosive devices from cluster munitions.


The Federal Republic of Nigeria signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 12 June 2009.

In September 2015, a Nigerian official acknowledged the slow ratification process and told the CMC it was due to bureaucratic delays and a May 2015 change in government.[1] Since 2010, Nigerian officials have committed to ratify the convention as soon as possible, but the ratification process had not advanced to the National Assembly as of June 2016.[2] During 2012, Nigeria undertook stakeholder consultations on ratification of the convention.[3]

Nigeria participated in the Oslo Process that created the Convention on Cluster Munitions and joined in the consensus adoption of the convention text in Dublin in May 2008. It attended the signing conference in Oslo in December 2008 as an observer only and said it would sign after completing internal processes.[4] Nigeria subsequently signed the convention at the UN in New York in June 2009.

Nigeria engages in the work of the convention, despite not ratifying. At the convention’s First Review Conference in Dubrovnik, Croatia in September 2015, Nigeria welcomed the successful adoption of the Dubrovnik Declaration condemning any use of cluster munitions by any actor.

Nigeria has attended every annual Meeting of States Parties of the convention, except in 2014, and intersessional meetings in Geneva in 2011–2012 and 2014. It has participated in regional workshops on the convention, such as one held in Accra, Ghana in May 2012.

On 7 December 2015, Nigeria voted in favor of a UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution on the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which urges all states outside the convention to join as soon as possible.[5]

In its capacity as a temporary member of the UN Security Council, Nigeria endorsed a May 2014 resolution expressing concern at the use of cluster munitions in South Sudan and calling for “all parties to refrain from similar such use in the future.”[6]

Nigeria has not elaborated its views on certain important issues relating to the convention’s interpretation and implementation, such as the prohibition on transit, the prohibition on assistance during joint military operations with states not party that may use cluster munitions, the prohibition on foreign stockpiling of cluster munitions, and the prohibition on investment in production of cluster munitions.

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


The full status and composition of Nigeria’s stockpile of cluster munitions is not known, but in April 2012, a government official said Nigeria stockpiles United Kingdom (UK)-made BL-755 cluster bombs.[7] At the Third Meeting of States Parties in September 2012, Nigeria again requested technical assistance and support from States Parties to destroy the BL-755 cluster bombs.[8]

In October 2015, the headquarters of Nigeria’s armed forces (Defence Headquarters) issued an alert warning the public of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) fabricated by Boko Haram from cluster munitions and provided photographs of weapons it said Nigerian Army engineers in Adamawa State recovered from arms caches found in areas contested by Boko Haram.[9]

The Ministry of Defence did not name the type of cluster munitions depicted in the photographs but CMC experts identified them as submunitions from French-made BLG-66 cluster munitions. AFP reported that Boko Haram could have taken the cluster munitions from Nigerian ammunition stocks or received them from smugglers who obtained them from Libyan arms depots.[10]

Nigeria has not indicated if it intends to retain any cluster munitions for research or training purposes.

Use, production, and transfer

Nigeria is not known to have produced or exported cluster munitions, but imported them in the past.

Sierra Leone alleges that Nigerian peacekeepers participating in the Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) force used cluster munitions in Sierra Leone in 1997, but the use allegation was denied at the time by ECOMOG Force Commander General Victor Malu.[11]

In May 2012, Sierra Leone reiterated the use allegations.[12] Nigeria denied the use allegation again in September 2012, stating:

Nigeria wishes to reiterate the inaccuracy of the statement made by the Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor on its 2011 report on Nigeria, to the effect that Sierra-Leone has said that Nigerian peacekeepers under the Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) used cluster munitions in Sierra-Leone in 1997. This statement is wrong and incorrect. Nigeria wishes to clarify once again, that ECOMOG is a Regional peacekeeping initiative, and not a Nigerian national body. The regional body, ECOWAS [Economic Community Of West African States], of which Nigeria is part, among others, must be given due credit for resolving the Sierra-Leonean crisis at huge cost to itself in terms of lives and treasure lost.[13]

[1] Interview with Patrick Y. Gbemudu, Minister Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the UN in Geneva, Dubrovnik, 8 September 2015.

[2] Statement of Nigeria, Convention on Cluster Munitions Fourth Meeting of States Parties, Lusaka, Zambia, September 2013; statement of Nigeria, Convention on Cluster Munitions Intersessional Meetings, Geneva, 18 April 2012; and statement of Nigeria, Convention on Cluster Munitions First Meeting of States Parties, Vientiane, 10 November 2010. Notes by the CMC.

[3] Statement of Nigeria, Convention on Cluster Munitions Third Meeting of States Parties, Oslo, Norway, 11 September 2012; and email from Mimidoo Achakpa, Network Coordinator, IANSA Women’s Network-Nigeria, 20 June 2012.

[4] For details on Nigeria’s policy and practice regarding cluster munitions through early 2009, see Human Rights Watch and Landmine Action, Banning Cluster Munitions: Government Policy and Practice (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, May 2009), pp. 223–224.

[5]Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” UNGA Resolution 70/54, 7 December 2015.

[7] Statement of Nigeria, Convention on Cluster Munitions Intersessional Meetings, Geneva, 18 April 2012. Jane’s Information Group has reported that the Nigerian Air Force possesses BL-755 cluster bombs. Robert Hewson, ed., Jane’s Air-Launched Weapons, Issue 44 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 2004), p. 843.

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

[9]Boko Haram has cluster bombs: Nigeria’s DHQ,” The News Nigeria, 8 October 2015.

[10]‘Boko Haram cluster bombs’ may come from Nigerian military,” AFP, 13 October 2015. See also, Philip Obaji Jr., “Boko Haram’s Cluster-Bomb Girls,” The Daily Beast, 2 October 2015.

[11] According to sources close to the Sierra Leonean military, in 1997 Nigerian forces operating as ECOMOG peacekeepers dropped two cluster bombs on Lokosama, near Port Loko. See, IRIN-WA Weekly Roundup, IRIN, 10 March 1997. Additionally, Nigerian ECOMOG peacekeepers were reported to have used French-produced BLG-66 Belouga cluster bombs in an attack on the eastern town of Kenema. See also, “10 Killed in Nigerian raid in eastern Sierra Leone,” Agence France-Presse, 11 December 1997.

[12] Statement of Sierra Leone, Accra Regional Conference on the Universalization of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, 28 May 2012.

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