Summary: State Party Afghanistan ratified the convention on 8 September 2011. Draft legislation is being prepared to enforce its implementation of the convention. Afghanistan has participated in all of the convention’s meetings and voted in favor of a UN resolution on the convention in December 2015. It has promoted universalization of the convention and condemned new use of cluster munitions.
In its initial transparency report for the convention provided in 2012, Afghanistan confirmed it has not used, produced, or transferred cluster munitions. The national armed forces do not stockpile cluster munitions, but Afghanistan regularly reports the discovery and destruction of abandoned weapons including cluster munitions.
The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 3 December 2008, ratified on 8 September 2011, and became a State Party on 1 March 2012.
Afghanistan reported in April 2016 that the Ministry of Justice is preparing draft implementation legislation for the convention. Previously, in April 2015, it reported that the Ministry of Justice was considering how to amend existing legislation to enforce the provisions of the convention. A 2012 legislative review advised that existing law should be amended, while a technical committee has provided support to the process of preparing the draft.
Afghanistan submitted its initial Article 7 transparency report for the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 30 August 2012 and has provided updated annual reports since, most recently on 25 April 2016.
Afghanistan participated in most meetings of the Oslo Process that created the Convention on Cluster Munitions, but despite actively supporting the ban objective it did not endorse the Wellington Declaration that would have committed it to participating fully in the formal negotiations of the convention. It also did not attend the negotiations in Dublin in May 2008, not even as an observer. Afghanistan attended the convention’s Oslo Signing Conference in December 2008 as an observer, but unexpectedly signed the convention near the end of the conference after the representative announced that he had received instructions and authorization to do so.
Afghanistan plays a positive and active role in the work of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. It participated in the convention’s First Review Conference in Dubrovnik, Croatia in September 2015. In an address to the high-level segment of the meeting, Afghanistan described the convention as “one of the success stories in disarmament” and affirmed the need to “send out a strong message through this conference against cluster munitions and reaffirm our collective commitments for a world free of cluster munitions in the near future.”
Afghanistan has attended all of the convention’s Meetings of States Parties as well as intersessional meetings in Geneva in 2011–2015.
On 7 December 2015, Afghanistan voted in favor of a UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution on the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which urges states outside the convention to “join as soon as possible.” Afghanistan has proposed that South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) member states discuss cluster munitions.
Afghanistan has condemned the use of cluster munitions and voted in favor of UNGA resolutions condemning the use of cluster munitions in Syria. At the First Review Conference, Afghanistan expressed strong support for draft outcome documents that condemned any cluster munition use by any actor and commented that “States Parties should join hands to end all suffering caused by these indiscriminate and inhumane weapons.”
Afghanistan is a State Party to the Mine Ban Treaty. It signed the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) in April 1981, but has not ratified.
Afghanistan has not elaborated its views on several important issues relating to interpretation and implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, but United States (US) Department of State cables made public by Wikileaks in 2011 have outlined US interpretation of the convention as it relates to Afghanistan (see section on Foreign stockpiling). In a December 2008 State Department cable, the US outlined its concern over how Afghanistan would interpret the convention’s prohibition on transit and foreign stockpiling, as well as Article 21 on “interoperability” or joint military operations with states not party to the convention.
Use, production, and transfer
In its initial Article 7 report, Afghanistan declared that it has no “production industry” for manufacturing cluster munitions. In September 2011, Afghanistan stated that it “does not use, produce, or transfer Cluster Munitions in the country.”
The Monitor is not aware of any use of cluster munitions in Afghanistan since 2002. US aircraft dropped 1,228 cluster bombs containing 248,056 submunitions in 232 strikes on locations throughout the country between October 2001 and early 2002. Soviet forces also used air-dropped and rocket-delivered cluster munitions during their invasion and occupation of Afghanistan from 1979–1989, while a non-state armed group used rocket-delivered cluster munitions during the civil war in the 1990s.
Stockpiling and destruction
In September 2013, Afghanistan informed States Parties that it “destroyed all its cluster munitions stocks before” the convention entered into force and therefore complies with its obligations under Article 3 of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. In October 2013, it stated that concerning cluster munitions, “Afghanistan is pleased to have destroyed all weaponry of this kind within its military stockpile.”
Afghanistan “has not officially announced” the completion of its stockpiled cluster munitions, but reports that “the Ministry of Defence verbally confirms that there is not any stockpile of cluster munitions left with Afghan National Forces.” This would appear to indicate that there are not any stocks under the jurisdiction and control of national forces, but additional stocks abandoned in the past by the government may continue to be discovered.
Afghanistan’s Article 7 reports have contained information under stockpile destruction indicating significant destruction during 2005–2011 and further destruction in 2012–2015. In April 2016, Afghanistan reported that HALO Trust weapons and ammunition destruction teams destroyed 165 “cluster munitions” during 2015 under the supervision of the Ministry of Defence. Given the government’s statements that there are no longer any stocks, these destroyed items were likely cluster munitions abandoned by other combatants in the past (and recently discovered) and/or cluster munition remnants destroyed in mine action and clearance operations. These are all considered cluster munition remnants under the Convention on Cluster Munitions and not stockpiled cluster munitions.
In 2008, Jane’s Information Group listed Afghanistan as possessing KMG-U dispensers and RBK-250-275 cluster bombs. Standard international reference sources have listed Afghanistan as possessing Grad 122mm and Uragan 220mm surface-to-surface rockets, but it is not known if these included versions with submunition payloads.
According to a December 2008 State Department cable released by Wikileaks, “The United States currently has a very small stockpile of cluster munitions in Afghanistan.” In February 2011, an Afghan human rights group called on the US government and NATO to reveal if it they had stockpiled or used cluster munitions in Afghanistan since the 2002 conflict.
 A joint technical committee is working to prepare draft implementing legislation for both the Mine Ban Treaty and the Convention on Cluster Munitions and includes the government’s Department of Mine Clearance, Mine Action Coordination Center of Afghanistan (MACCA), the Mine Dog Center, Afghan Landmine Survivors’ Organization (ALSO), and the ICRC. Statement of Afghanistan, Convention on Cluster Munitions Third Meeting of States Parties, 13 September 2012. See also Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form A, 30 August 2012.
 Afghanistan’s initial Article 7 report covered calendar year 2011, while the 19 May 2013 covered calendar year 2012, the 27 April 2014 update was for calendar year 2013, the 28 April 2015 update covered calendar year 2014, and the 25 April 2016 update covered calendar year 2015.
 For details on Afghanistan’s cluster munition policy and practice through early 2009, see Human Rights Watch and Landmine Action, Banning Cluster Munitions: Government Policy and Practice (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, May 2009), pp. 27–28.
 Two United States (US) Department of State cables subsequently made public by Wikileaks have shown how US officials had sought assurances from the highest levels of the Afghan government that Afghanistan would not join the convention; however, during the Oslo Signing Conference President Karzai decided that Afghanistan should sign the convention. “Afghan views on cluster munitions and Oslo process,” US Department of State cable 08KABUL346 dated 12 February 2008, released by Wikileaks on 20 May 2011.
 “Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” UNGA Resolution 70/54, 7 December 2015.
 “Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic,” UNGA Resolution 69/189, 18 December 2014.
 According to the cable, the US has interpreted the convention as allowing “U.S. forces to store, transfer, and use U.S. cluster munitions in the territory of a State Party.” The cable states that “the United States reads the phrase ‘military cooperation and operations’ in Article 21 to include all preparations for future military operations, transit of cluster munitions through the territory of a State Party, and storage and use of cluster munitions on the territory of a State Party.” “Demarche to Afghanistan on cluster munitions,” US Department of State cable 08STATE134777 dated 29 December 2008, released by Wikileaks on 1 December 2010.
 Human Rights Watch (HRW), “Fatally Flawed: Cluster Bombs and their Use by the United States in Afghanistan,” Vol. 14, No. 7 (G), December 2002.
 CMC Fact Sheet prepared by (HRW), “Cluster Munitions in the Asia-Pacific Region,” October 2008.
 Statement of Afghanistan, Convention on Cluster Munitions Fourth Meeting of States Parties, Lusaka, 10 September 2013. In April 2014, Afghanistan again stated that it destroyed all stockpiles of cluster munitions before the convention entered into force and no longer has a stockpile. Statement of Afghanistan, Convention on Cluster Munitions Intersessional Meetings, Geneva, 8 April 2014. Notes by the CMC.
 Afghanistan’s initial Article 7 report detailed the destruction between 2005 and 2011 of over 402,000 submunitions of various types. Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form B, 30 August 2012. The subsequent Article 7 reports detail the destruction of 761 additional munitions and submunitions discovered in 2012 and 2013 and also provide an updated accounting of the various submunitions destroyed between 2005 and 2011, listing five types of munitions not included in the initial report. Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form B, Part II, 27 April 2014; and Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form B, 19 May 2013.
 Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form B, Part II, para. 3 (a), 25 April 2016. Note that Afghanistan stated in its 2015 Article 7 Report that 187 “cluster munitions” were destroyed in 2014. See, Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form B, Part II, para. 3 (c), 28 April 2015.
 Colin King, ed., Jane’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal 2008, CD-edition, 15 January 2008 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 2008).
 Ibid.; and International Institute for Strategic Studies, The Military Balance 2005–2006 (London: Routledge, 2005), p. 233.
 Afghanistan Rights Monitor, “Annual Report: Civilian Casualties of War, January–December 2010,” p. 15.