Summary: Non-signatory Sri Lanka has not articulated its position on accession to the convention, but it has participated as an observer in the convention’s annual meetings since 2011 and attended the First Review Conference in September 2015.
Sri Lanka is not known to have produced or exported cluster munitions. Sri Lanka states that it has never used or stockpiled cluster munitions, but, in June 2016, Sri Lanka’s Minister of Foreign Affairs indicated a willingness to look into allegations that government forces used cluster munitions in 2008 and 2009.
The Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka has not acceded to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
Sri Lanka has shown interest in the convention, but has not elaborated its view on accession. Sri Lanka participated as an observer in the convention’s First Review Conference in September 2015, where it made a statement expressing its support for the humanitarian objectives of the convention and informing States Parties that it has never used or stockpiled cluster munitions.
On 7 December 2015, Sri Lanka voted in favor of a United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolution on the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which urges states outside the convention to “join as soon as possible.” Sri Lanka did not explain why it supported the non-binding resolution, which 139 states voted to adopt, including many non-signatories.
Sri Lanka participated in one meeting of the Oslo Process that created the Convention on Cluster Munitions (Vienna in December 2007). It attended a regional meeting on cluster munitions in Bali, Indonesia in November 2009.
Since 2011, Sri Lanka has participated as an observer in all of the convention’s annual Meetings of States Parties. It attended the convention’s First Review Conference in Dubrovnik, Croatia in September 2015 and intersessional meetings in 2013.
In March 2016, Sri Lanka announced that it intends to accede to the Mine Ban Treaty. It is party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons.
Use, production, transfer, and stockpiling
Sri Lankan officials have stated, most recently in September 2015, that its armed forces do not possess cluster munitions and have never used the weapons. In 2013, a Sri Lankan army officer informed the CMC that army engineers are trained to clear unexploded ordnance from weapons used by the armed forces, but they have not been trained to clear cluster munitions as Sri Lanka does not possess these weapons and has never used them.
Sri Lanka has consistently denied claims that it used cluster munitions in 2008 and 2009 during the final months of its military operation against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the northern Vanni region. However, following the publication of new evidence in June 2016, Sri Lanka’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mangala Samaraweera, expressed support for a proposal by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to create a “credible mechanism” to look into allegations. Samaraweera, who participated in the 32nd session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, told a press conference that “we can respond [to the allegations] once we have gone into them thoroughly.” In June 2016, The Guardian reported that three mine clearance organizations have cleared cluster munition remnants from at least six different sites in the north of the country since 2009. It reported that HALO Trust cleared 42 cluster munitions—likely submunitions—from sites near Pachchilapalli, which saw fighting between government and LTTE forces at the end of the war. HALO said it reported clearance of the items, submitting the records to the government-run mine action center. The Guardian published photographs that it said depicted cluster munition remnants found in the Kilinochchi district and near Chalai, to the north of Mullaitivu. Human Rights Watch identified the munitions depicted as Soviet-made RBK-500 AO-2.5RT cluster bombs. According to The Guardian, former Mines Advisory Group workers also found cluster munition remnants near the town of Puthukuduyurippu, while the Swiss Foundation for Mine Action cleared them from Suthanthirapuram.
The Sri Lankan air force possesses aircraft capable of delivering this type of cluster munition, while the LTTE had light planes incapable of carrying them. The Indian air force possesses RBK-500 series cluster bombs and was involved in a military intervention against the LTTE in northern Sri Lanka in 1987–1990.
HALO told the Guardian that it has not concluded which side had deployed the cluster munitions or when, asserting that it “could have been any time within the last three decades.”
Previously, in April 2012, the government denied further allegations that it used cluster munitions during the conflict. A February 2009 media article alleged that Sri Lankan forces used cluster munitions against the LTTE, and specifically while targeting Pudukkudyirippu Hospital. A UN spokesperson initially said the hospital was attacked with cluster munitions, but retracted the statement after further investigation.
In response to previous allegations, the Sri Lankan government’s Media Center for National Security issued the following statement in February 2009: “The Government wishes to clarify that the Sri Lanka army do not use these cluster bombs nor do they have facilities to use them.” A statement posted to the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development website found that Sri Lanka never fired cluster munitions or brought them into the country.
A March 2011 report by a UN panel of experts on Sri Lanka noted the government’s denial of use of the weapon and said that it was unable to reach a conclusion on the credibility of the allegation of use of cluster munitions by Sri Lanka. In June 2016, the OHCHR requested that the government of Sri Lanka initiate an independent investigation into the alleged use of cluster munitions in the north.
 In 2010, the Ministry of Economic Development published a plan stating that it would “advocate for a ban of landmines and cluster munitions,” but it is not known to have done so. Ministry of Economic Development, “The National Strategy for Mine Action in Sri Lanka,” September 2010. In 2013, a representative of the country’s armed forces informed the CMC that the Sri Lankan military does not object to Sri Lanka joining the convention. CMC interview with Brig. H.J.S. Gunawardane, Head of the Sri Lanka delegation, Convention on Cluster Munitions Fourth Meeting of States Parties, Lusaka, 12 September 2013.
 Statement of Sri Lanka, Convention on Cluster Munitions First Review Conference, 9 September 2015. Notes by the Monitor.
 “Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” UNGA Resolution 70/54, 7 December 2015.
 Statement of Sri Lanka, Convention on Cluster Munitions First Review Conference, 9 September 2015. Notes by the Monitor. See also, Monitor meeting with Amb. Dr. Palitha T.B. Kohona and Dilup Nanyakkara, Advisor, Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the UN in New York, New York, 19 October 2010.
 CMC interview with Brig. H.J.S. Gunawardane, Head of Sri Lanka delegation, Convention on Cluster Munitions Fourth Meeting of States Parties, Lusaka, 12 September 2013.
 See, Human Rights Watch and Landmine Action, Banning Cluster Munitions: Government Policy and Practice (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, May 2009), pp. 242–243. In October 2009, Sri Lankan Army Commander Lt.-Gen. J. Jayasuriya stated, “Where the cluster munitions are concerned, I wish to categorically state that such inhumane weapons have never, and will never be used by the Sri Lankan Armed Forces.” Keynote address by Lt.-Gen. Jayasuriya, Sri Lankan Army, International Law on Landmines and Explosive Remnants of War Seminar, Colombo, 27 October 2009. The text of the address was included in, “Flow of arms to terrorists must stop,” Daily News, 28 October 2009.
 T. Ramakrishnan, “Need credible probe on the use of cluster bombs, says Samaraweera,” The Hindu, 7 July 2016.
 Emmanuel Stoakes, “Sri Lanka denies cluster bombs found in war zones were government weapons,” The Guardian, 26 June 2016; See also, Emmanuel Stoakes, “Cluster bombs used in Sri Lanka's civil war, leaked photos suggest,” The Guardian, 20 June 2016.
 Emmanuel Stoakes, “Sri Lanka denies cluster bombs found in war zones were government weapons,” The Guardian, 26 June 2016.
 In April 2012, the Associated Press quoted a UNDP mine action advisor as reportedly stating in an internal document that deminers had encountered submunitions in the Puthukkudiyiruppu area of northeastern Sri Lanka. See, Ravi Nessman, “UN Finds Cluster Bombs in Sri Lanka,” Associated Press (New Delhi), 26 April 2012; and Ravi Nessman, “Witness: Man hit by cluster bomb in Sri Lanka war,” Associated Press (New Delhi), 27 April 2012. The government’s Media Center for National Security responded, “The rehashed allegation in international media that the Sri Lankan Armed Forces used cluster munitions during the Humanitarian Operations is baseless. It is a repetition of similar allegations that were made earlier on several occasions and is not based on any facts.” Ministry of Defence and Urban Development, “Ministry of Defence denies use of cluster munitions by security forces,” 28 April 2012.
 “U.N. cites Sri Lanka cluster bomb use: The U.S., EU, Norway and Japan join in a plea to the Tamil Tiger rebels to end their failing separatist struggle and avoid more deaths,” Los Angeles Times, 4 February 2009.
 “UN accepts Sri Lanka has not used cluster bombs – website,” BBC Monitoring South Asia, 5 February 2009; and Walter Jayawardhana, “UN Spokesman Accepts Sri Lanka Never Had Cluster Bombs,” Ministry of Defence, 5 February 2009.
 Media Center for National Security, “Government denies the attack on Pudukuduerippu hospital or using cluster bombs,” 4 February 2009.
 Walter Jayawardhana, “UN Spokesman Accepts Sri Lanka Never Had Cluster Bombs,” Ministry of Defence and Urban Development, 5 February 2009.
 Report of the Secretary General’s Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka, 31 March 2011, p. 47 (Section G, paras. 168–169).
 Paragraph 33 states: “In light of recent reports on new evidence that has emerged on the use of cluster munitions towards the end of the conflict, following similar allegations in the OHCHR investigation report, the High Commissioner calls for an independent and impartial investigation to be carried out.” OHCHR, “Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka,” A/HRC/32/CRP.4, 28 June 2016, p. 8.