Singapore

Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 03 July 2018

Summary: Non-signatory Singapore supports the convention’s humanitarian objectives, but has not taken any steps to join it. Singapore has participated in many meetings of the convention, most recently in September 2016, and voted in favor of a key United Nations (UN) resolution on the convention in December 2017.

Singapore’s only manufacturer of cluster munitions, Singapore Technologies Engineering, announced in November 2015 that it no longer produces cluster munitions. Singapore has not exported cluster munitions since it imposed an export moratorium in 2008. Singapore is not known to have used cluster munitions. It possesses a stockpile of cluster munitions, but has not provided information on the number and types stockpiled.

Policy

The Republic of Singapore has not acceded to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

In October 2017, Singapore reiterated its long-held view that “a blanket ban on all types of…cluster munitions may…be counterproductive.”[1] In a July 2017 letter to Cluster Munition Monitor, Singapore stated that it “shares the humanitarian concerns” of the convention, but “believes that legitimate security concerns and the right to self-defense of any State cannot be disregarded,” and thus views the ban on cluster munitions as “counterproductive.”[2] Singapore has long sought to balance “humanitarian concerns…against the legitimate right of States to use such munitions judiciously for self-defence…”[3] It has also objected to the way the convention was “negotiated outside of the United Nations framework.”[4]

Singapore often highlights its 2008 moratorium on exporting cluster munitions and its participation as an observer in the convention’s work.

Singapore did not participate in any of the preparatory meetings of the Oslo Process but attended the Dublin negotiations of the Convention on Cluster Munitions in May 2008 as an observer.[5]

Singapore participated as an observer in the convention’s Meetings of States Parties in 2010, 2012, 2014, and 2016, as well as the First Review Conference in 2015 and intersessional meetings in 2011. It did not make any statements at these meetings. Singapore was invited to, but did not attend, the convention’s Seventh Meeting of States Parties in Geneva in September 2017.

In December 2017, Singapore voted in favor of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution on the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which calls on states outside the convention to “join as soon as possible.”[6] Singapore voted in favor of previous UNGA resolutions promoting implementation and universalization of the convention in 2015 and 2016.[7]

Singapore is not party to the Mine Ban Treaty. It is also not party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons.

Use, production, and transfer

Singapore is not known to have used cluster munitions, but it produced them and possesses a stockpile.

In November 2008, Singapore announced an indefinite moratorium on the export of cluster munitions.[8]

Prior to the export moratorium, cluster munitions companies in Singapore publicly advertised cluster munitions for sale, but it is not known if any exports actually occurred. One company told the Monitor in 2010 that it “does not produce cluster munitions for export, nor are we a sub-contractor to anyone who does.”[9]

In November 2015, Singapore Technologies Engineering announced that it no longer produces cluster munitions, stating: “As a responsible military technology manufacturer we do not design, produce and sell anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions and any related key components.”[10]

The government of Singapore has not made a statement or taken any action committing to no longer permitting the production of cluster munitions.[11]

Stockpiling

In September 2016, a representative of Singapore informed the Monitor that it does not intend to acquire any new cluster munitions to replace its stocks as they expire.[12]

Singapore has not disclosed information on the types or quantities of its stockpiled cluster munitions. A subsidiary of Singapore Technologies Engineering produced 155mm dual-purpose improved conventional munition (DPICM) artillery projectiles, each containing 64 submunitions equipped with electro-mechanical self-destruct fuzes.[13] It also produced a 120mm mortar projectile that contains 25 DPICM submunitions.[14]

Singapore’s stockpile may also contain 350 CBU-71 air-delivered cluster bombs that it received from the United States (US) at some point between 1970 and 1995.[15]



[1] Explanation of Vote by Singapore on Resolution L.41, UN General Assembly (UNGA) First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 31 October 2017, pp. 19–20/29.

[2] Letter to Mary Wareham, Advocacy Director, Human Rights Watch (HRW), from Grace Zhu, First Secretary, Permanent Mission of the Republic of Singapore to the UN in Geneva, 25 July 2017.

[3] Letter from Seah Seow Chen, then Second Secretary, Permanent Mission of Singapore to the UN in Geneva, 4 May 2010. The Permanent Mission of Singapore to the UN in Geneva informed the Monitor in April 2013 and March 2012 that there has been no change to the position outlined in the May 2010 letter. Letter from Cheryl Lee, First Secretary, Permanent Mission of Singapore to the UN in Geneva, 10 April 2013; and letter from Seah Seow Chen, First Secretary, Permanent Mission of Singapore to the UN in Geneva, 13 March 2012.

[5] For details on Singapore’s cluster munition policy and practice through early 2009, see HRW and Landmine Action, Banning Cluster Munitions: Government Policy and Practice (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, May 2009), pp. 238–239.

[6] “Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” UNGA Resolution 72/54, 4 December 2017.

[7] “Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” UNGA Resolution 71/45, 5 December 2016; and “Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” UNGA Resolution 70/54, 7 December 2015.

[8] In 2010, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official informed the Monitor that the indefinite export moratorium was undertaken “to ensure that these munitions will not be transferred to other parties who might use them indiscriminately and irresponsibly.” Letter from Seah Seow Chen, Permanent Mission of Singapore to the UN in Geneva, 4 May 2010. In 2015, a representative of Singapore confirmed to the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) that Singapore’s indefinite moratorium on the export of cluster munitions had not changed and still remained in effect. CMC campaign meeting with Maj. Yock Liang Vernon Goh, Singapore Armed Forces, in Dubrovnik, 7 September 2015. Notes by the CMC.

[9] Email from Sharolyn Choy, Senior Vice-President, Corporate Communications, Singapore Technologies Engineering, 3 May 2010.

[10] See the Singapore Technologies Engineering website. See also, Stop Explosive Investments, “Singapore Technologies Engineering stops production of cluster munitions,” 18 November 2015. Investors received similar letters; and Local Authority Pension Fund Forum, “ST Engineering Quits Cluster Munitions,” 18 November 2015. In a letter to PAX, which leads the explosive investments disinvestment campaign for the CMC, company President Tan Pheng Hock explained that the decision came about in part because “we often get asked by the investment community [about] our stand on cluster munitions.” Letter to PAX from Tan Pheng Hock, President and Chief Executive Officer, Singapore Technologies Engineering Ltd, 11 November 2015.

[11] ICBL-CMC meeting with Lt. Col. Teng Shin Fong, Policy Division, Singapore Armed Forces, in Geneva, 1 December 2016.

[12] ICBL-CMC meeting with Lt. Col. Ong Chiou Perng, Ministry of Defense, Singapore, in Geneva,6 September 2016.

[13] Leland S. Ness and Anthony G. Williams, eds., Jane’s Ammunition Handbook 2007–2008 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 2007), pp. 657–658. The submunitions have an advertised failure rate of less than 3%.

[14] Singapore Technologies Engineering, “Product: 155m Cargo Round,” undated.

[15] US Defense Security Assistance Agency, Department of Defense, “Cluster Bomb Exports under FMS, FY1970–FY1995,” 15 November 1995, obtained by HRW in a Freedom of Information Act request.