Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 26 June 2018

Summary: State Party Colombia ratified the convention on 10 September 2015 after adopting ratification legislation incorporating the convention into domestic law. It has participated in everymeeting of the convention and has condemned new use of cluster munitions. Colombia voted in favor of a key UN resolution on the convention in December 2017.

Colombia never produced cluster munitions, but it imported them and destroyed a stockpile of 72 cluster munitions and 10,832 submunitions in November 2009. Colombia is not retaining any cluster munitions for training or research purposes.


The Republic of Colombia signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 3 December 2008, ratified on 10 September 2015, and the convention entered into force for the country on 1 March 2016.

Law 1604, adopted on 12 December 2012, approved Colombia’s ratification of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, incorporating it into domestic law.[1] Colombia has reported this and other relevant legislation and decrees under national implementation measures for the convention.[2] Colombia provided its initial Article 7 transparency report on 28 August 2016 and submitted an annual updated report on 30 April 2018 and 19 May 2017.[3]

Colombia participated in several meetings of the Oslo Process that produced the convention and said that its decision to join stemmed from its concern about the “humanitarian impact” of cluster munitions.[4]

Colombia actively engages in the work of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. It has participated in every Meeting of States Parties of the convention, most recently the Seventh Meeting of States Parties in Geneva in September 2017. Colombia attended the convention’s First Review Conference in 2015 and intersessional meetings in 2011–2015. It has participated in regional workshops on cluster munitions.

Colombian representatives met with the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) during the Sixth Meeting of States Parties in September 2016, which encouraged it to promote the convention with countries throughout Latin America and around the world.[5]

Colombia voted in favor of key UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolutions promoting the implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, most recently in December 2017.[6]

Colombia has “deplored” the use of cluster munitions, including in South Sudan, Syria, and Ukraine.[7] It has voted in favor of UNGA resolutions expressing outrage at the use of cluster munitions in Syria, most recently in December 2017.[8]

Colombia is a State Party to the Mine Ban Treaty. It is also party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons.

Interpretive issues

Colombia provided its views on certain important issues related to interpretation and implementation of the convention in a March 2010 response to a Monitor questionnaire.[9] The government “absolutely rejects and prohibits any manner of transfer or storage of foreign cluster bombs in Colombian territory” as well as “military operations with states not party to the convention in which they carry out exercises or actions prohibited by the Convention.” It also prohibits investment in production of cluster munitions. In addition, “Colombia considers that the countries that are still not a part of this convention can take steps toward honoring the spirit of the convention.” Colombia reaffirmed its position on all these interpretive issues in a May 2011 response to the Monitor.[10]

Production and transfer

In a May 2011 letter to the Monitor, Colombia stated that it has never produced cluster munitions.[11] In the past, it imported cluster munitions from Chile, Israel, and the United States (US). In 2010, Colombia stated that it has not transferred cluster munitions “to a third state.”[12]

In 2012, Chile’s Ministry of National Defense provided the Monitor with a document detailing the export of a total of 191 cluster bombs to Colombia in 1994 (55 250kg cluster bombs, four air-dropped 250kg cluster bombs, and one fin stabilizer for a CB-250kg cluster bomb) and in 1997 (132 250kg cluster bombs).[13]


In an April 2012 letter, a Ministry of External Relations official told the Monitor that the Colombian Air Force decided to stop using cluster munitions after an evaluation found that they did not meet the operational requirements or needs of Colombia.[14]

In May 2009, Colombia’s Minister of Defense, Juan Manuel Santos, acknowledged that the Colombian armed forces had used cluster munitions in the past “to destroy clandestine airstrips and camps held by illegal armed groups” and noted that the submunitions sometimes did not explode and “became a danger to the civilian population.”[15]

The Monitor has reported on the case of apparent cluster munition use by the Colombian Air Force at Santo Domingo in the municipality of Tame (Arauca) on 13 December 1998, which killed 17 and injured 27 others.[16] An investigation showed that a World War II-era “cluster adapter” of US origin was used to disperse several 20-pound (9kg) fragmentation bombs during the attack.[17] In December 2012, the Inter-American Human Rights Court published its verdict on the case that found the Colombian Air Force used an AN-M1A2 bomb, which it said meets the definition of a cluster munition.[18] The court found that Colombia should treat victims of the attack in accordance with its victim assistance obligations under the Convention on Cluster Munitions. In November 2017, the Supreme Court of Colombia upheld the decision.[19]

Stockpiling and destruction

Colombia announced the completion of the destruction of its stockpile of cluster munitions on 24 November 2009.[20] It destroyed a total of 72 cluster munitions (31 ARC-32 and 41 CB-250K cluster bombs) containing 10,832 submunitions.[21]

Colombia is not retaining any cluster munitions or submunitions for research or training purposes.[22]

[1] The House of Representatives approved the draft ratification legislation, Bill 244, on 15 November 2012, after it received Senate approval as Bill 174 on 30 August 2012.

[3] Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, 30 April 2018;Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, 28 April 2016. According to the 2018 report, the Colombian Air Force has published a new report entitled “Convención Munición en Racimo –Un compromiso de la Fuerza Aérea Colombiana con los Derechos Humanos y el Derecho Internacional Humanitario.”

[4] For details on Colombia’s policyand 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. 58–59.

[5] ICBL-CMC meeting with Francisco Alberto Gonzalez, Minister-Counsellor to the Permanent Mission to Geneva, Geneva, 7 September 2016.

[6]Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” UNGA Resolution 72/54, 4 December 2017. Colombia was a lead sponsor of the 2016 resolution and voted in favor of a similar resolution in 2015.

[7] Statement of Colombia, Convention on Cluster Munitions Fifth Meeting of States Parties, San Jose, 2 September 2014. Notes by the CMC.

[8]Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic,” UNGA Resolution 72/191, 19 December 2017.Colombia voted in favor of similar resolutionsin 2014–2016.

[9] Email from Camilo Serna Villegas, Operations Coordinator, Colombian Campaign to Ban Landmines, 11 August 2010.

[10] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Nohra M. Quintero C., Coordinator, Internal Working Group on Disarmament and International Security, 13 May 2011.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Response to Monitor questionnaire by the Ministry of External Relations, 26 March 2010.

[13] “Exports of Cluster Bombs Authorized in the Years 1991–2001,” official document by the General Directorate of National Mobilization (Dirección General de Movilización Nacional), Ministry of National Defense document provided together with letter from Brig. Gen. Roberto Ziegele Kerber, Director-General of National Mobilizaton, Ministry of National Defense, 18 May 2012.

[14] Letter from Sonia Matilde Eljach Polo, Ministry of External Relations, 19 April 2012.

[15] Carlos Osorio, “Colombia destruye sus últimas bombas de tipo racimo” (“Colombia destroys its last cluster bombs”), Agence France-Presse, 7 May 2009. In 2010, the Ministry of National Defense said that the Colombian Air Force last used cluster munitions on 10 October 2006 “to destroy clandestine airstrips belonging to organizations dedicated to drug trafficking in remote areas of the country where the risk to civilians was minimal.” Ministry of National Defense presentation on cluster munitions, slide 11, Bogotá, December 2010.

[16] The case was described in the draft ratification bill contained in the letter from Representative Iván Cepeda Castro, to Albeiro Vanegas Osorio, Chairperson, Second Committee of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade, Defense and National Security, House of Representatives, April 2011. See also, T. Christian Miller, “A Colombian Town Caught in a Cross-Fire,” Los Angeles Times, 17 March 2002.

[17] Organization of American States Inter-American Commission on Human Rights document, “Masacre de Santo Domingo, Colombia, Caso 12.416,” 22 April 2011.

[18] Sentence C-259 of 2012, Section B2 “The launch of a ANM1A2 device on Santo Domingo,” Inter-American Human Rights Court, “Caso Masacre de Santo Domingo vs. Colombia,” Resumen Oficial Emitido por la Court Interamericana Sentencia de 30 Noviembre de 2012. The Colombian government reportedly paid a total of 5,700 million pesos to victims of the attack. See, “Condenan a 30 años a dos oficiales por bombardeo a Santo Domingo,” El Tiempo, 23 November 2017.

[19] César Romero Pradilla vs. Johan Jiménez Valencia, Supreme Court of the Republic of Colombia, Radicación N° 37638, Aprobado Acta No. 396, 23 November 2017.

[20] For details on Colombia’s stockpile destruction see ICBL, Cluster Munition Monitor 2010 (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, October 2010), pp. 135–136.

[21] Letter from Sonia Matilde Eljach Polo, Ministry of External Relations, 19 April 2012; and response to Monitor questionnaire by the Ministry of External Relations, 26 March 2010. The CB-250K bombs were produced by Chile and each contains 240 submunitions. The ARC-32 bomb is apparently a 350kg weapon produced by Israel that contains 32 anti-runway submunitions.

[22] Statement of Colombia, Convention on Cluster Munitions Fourth Meeting of States Parties, San Jose, 2 September 2014.