Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 04 August 2016

Summary: State Party Somalia ratified the convention on 30 September 2015 and it entered into force for the country on 1 March 2016. Somalia has participated in several meetings of the convention and voted in favor of a UN resolution on the convention in December 2015. It has condemned new use of the cluster munitions.

Somalia is not known to have used, produced, transferred, or stockpiled cluster munitions. Remnants of cluster munitions have been cleared from the country’s border areas. Kenya has denied an allegation that it used cluster munitions in Somalia in January 2016.


The Somali Republic signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 3 December 2008 and ratified on 30 September 2015. The convention entered into force for Somalia on 1 March 2016.

It is not clear if Somalia intends to undertake national implementing legislation to enforce the convention’s provisions.

Its initial Article 7 transparency measures report is due by 31 August 2016.

On 7 December 2015, Somalia voted in favor of a resolution by the UN General Assembly (UNGA) on the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which urges states outside the convention to “join as soon as possible.”[1]

Somalia attended one meeting of the Oslo Process that produced the convention (Vienna in December 2007).[2]

Somalia participated in the convention’s annual Meetings of States Parties in 2011–2012 and 2014, as well as intersessional meetings in Geneva in 2013–2014. It was invited to, but did not attend the First Review Conference of the convention in Dubrovnik, Croatia in September 2015.

Somalia’s Prime Minister, Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, deposited the country’s ratification instrument with the UN in New York in September 2015. The Somalia Coalition to Ban Landmines welcomed the ratification and called for clearance of cluster bomb remnants, particularly on border with Ethiopia.[3]

At the UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security in October 2015, Somalia announced its ratification of the convention and expressed concern at the inability of cluster munitions to distinguish between civilians and combatants, as well as the dangers posed by their remnants, particularly unexploded submunitions.[4]

In September 2014, Somalia said that, “we denounce ongoing use of cluster munitions” in South Sudan and Syria, as well as reported cluster munition use in Ukraine.[5] Somalia has voted in favor of UNGA resolutions condemning the use of cluster munitions in Syria.[6]

Somalia is a party to the Mine Ban Treaty. It is not party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons.

Use, production, transfer, and stockpiling

In September 2014, Somalia informed States Parties that it “is not a user, producer, or stockpiling state” of cluster munitions.[7]

Use allegation in Gedo region

Kenya, a signatory to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, has denied an allegation that it used cluster munitions in Somalia in 2016.[8] On 24 January 2016, a Somali media outlet reported an alleged cluster munition attack in the Gedo region of Somalia.[9] It published photographs reportedly taken at the site of the attack that show dead livestock and the remnants of United Kingdom (UK)-made BL-755 cluster bombs and their submunitions. According to the article, the Kenyan Defence Forces (KDF) carried out the attack against the non-state armed group (NSAG) al-Shabaab after Kenyan troops were forced to retreat from their base near the Somali border town of El Adde. 

The governor of Gedo region, Mohamed Abdi Kalil, accused the KDF of attacking the area around Bardere City “using illegal cluster bombs.”[10]

At the UN Security Council in February 2016, the United States said it was “deeply disturbed by allegations” that Kenya attacked civilian areas in Somalia in January 2016, including “claims that cluster munitions were deployed in violation of international law.”[11] It called for an investigation.

The UN investigated and reported to the Security Council on 9 May 2016, finding that:

In addition to civilian casualties, air strikes by the Kenyan military from 15 to 23 January in the Gedo region reportedly resulted in the killing of livestock and the destruction of water wells and houses. In this regard, allegations of cluster munitions were reported by the media and local communities. However, the Government of Kenya has officially denied them. Unexploded sub-munitions are reported to have been used by Al-Shabaab as improvised explosive devices during attacks. On 31 January, the Federal Government announced a committee to investigate the impact of the air strikes, but the committee has yet to begin its work.[12]

Thus, it is not possible at this time for the Monitor to confirm the use of cluster munitions in January 2016, or to identify the responsible party. The Monitor has previously reported that Kenya is not known to have used or stockpiled cluster munitions. The Monitor has seen no evidence that NSAGs in Somalia are using submunitions to create improvised explosive devices.

Previously, in 2013, mine clearance operators working in Somalia near the border with Ethiopia discovered cluster munition remnants believed to date from the 1977–1978 Ogaden War between Somalia and Ethiopia, but it is unclear who was responsible for the use.[13] Somalia has commented that the cluster munition contamination near the border with Ethiopia dates from the “border wars of 1978–1984,” but has not indicated who was responsible for the use.[14]

[1] Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,mplementation of the Convention on Cluste

[2] For details on Somalia’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), p. 153.

[3] CMC, “Somalia Ratifies the Convention,” 1 October 2015.

[4] Statement of Somalia, UNGA First Committee for Disarmament and International Security, New York, 27 October 2015.

[5] Statement of Somalia, Convention on Cluster Munitions Fifth Meeting of States Parties, San Jose, 2 September 2014.

[6]Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic,” UNGA Resolution A/RES/69/189, 18 December 2014. Somalia voted in favor of similar resolutions on 15 May and 18 December 2013.

[7] Statement of Somalia, Convention on Cluster Munitions Fifth Meeting of States Parties, San Jose, 2 September 2014.

[8] UN Security Council, “Report of the Secretary-General on Somalia (S/2016/430),” 9 May 2016, p. 10, para. 51.

[9] “Losses shelling forces arrested Gedo and Juba,” Calanka Media, 24 January 2016. See also, “Sawirro: Kenya Oo Qaaday Weerar Culus Oo Aar goosi Ah!!,” Somalia Memo, 24 January 2016.

[10] Mohamed Abdi Kalil (@GovernorKalil), “#KDF jets pounded #Bardere city area southern #Gedo region, killing Civilians, destroying livestock Using illegal cluster bombs #Somalia @UN,” 5 March 2016, 8:02am. Tweet.

[11]Somalia - Security Council, 7626th meeting,” UN Web TV, 18 February 2016.

[12] UN Security Council, “Report of the Secretary-General on Somalia S/2016/430,” 9 May 2016, p. 10, para. 51.

[13] In April 2013, the director of the Somalia National Mine Action Authority (SNMAA) informed the Monitor that dozens of failed PTAB-2.5M and some AO-1SCh explosive submunitions were found within a 30-kilometer radius of the Somali border town of Dolow. It is not possible to determine definitively who was responsible for this cluster munition use. The Soviet Union supplied both sides in the Ogaden War, and foreign military forces known to have cluster munitions fought in support of Ethiopia, including the Soviet Union and Cuba. Email from Mohammed A. Ahmed, SNMAA, 17 April 2013. Photographs of the cluster munition remnants are available here.

[14] Statement of Somalia, Convention on Cluster Munitions Fifth Meeting of States Parties, San Jose, 2 September 2014.