Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 19 June 2019

Summary: Non-signatory Argentina adopted the convention in 2008, but has not taken any steps to accede. Argentina has attended nearly all of the convention’s meetings, but abstained from voting on a key United Nations (UN) resolution promoting the convention in December 2018. Argentina imported and stockpiled cluster munitions in the past, but affirms it never used or exported them. According to Argentina, the cluster munition stocks were destroyed prior to the 2008 ban convention and it has no intention to produce them in the future.


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

Since the convention’s 2008 adoption, Argentine officials have long linked the government’s position on joining to its negative interpretation of certain aspects of the convention. In September 2018, Argentina again told States Parties that it supports the goal of prohibiting cluster munitions, but regards the convention as “not sufficiently ambitious” and finds the articles on definitions and interoperability to be “contrary to the objective of the total prohibition and the principle of non-discrimination.”[1]

Argentina actively participated in the Oslo Process and joined in the consensus adoption of the Convention on Cluster Munitions at the conclusion of the negotiations in Dublin on 30 May 2008.[2] However, it was absent from the Oslo Signing Conference in December 2008.

Argentina has articulated the same concerns about the convention since 2008. It regards the convention’s prohibitions as “discriminatory in nature” as they are not “comprehensive” and “specifically define one excluded category developed by some countries.” Argentina also alleges the convention permits or allows States Parties to participate in joint military operations with countries that use cluster munitions.

At the beginning of the Oslo Process, Argentina supported technical solutions to the cluster munition problem, noting that it was developing a new generation of cluster munitions with low failure rates.[3] It supported a definition that would have exempted cluster munitions containing submunitions equipped with self-destruct mechanisms.[4] During the process, Argentina’s position evolved into support for a broad definition prohibiting all cluster munitions and a total ban without exceptions.[5] Argentina strongly objected to Article 21 of the convention and has long described this provision as a potential loophole allowing for cluster munition use.[6]

Argentina has participated as an observer in all of the convention’s meetings, most recently the Eighth Meeting of States Parties in Geneva in September 2018. It attended the convention’s First Review Conference in Dubrovnik, Croatia in 2015 and intersessional meetings in 2011–2014. Argentina has participated in regional workshops on the convention, most recently in Santiago, Chile in 2013.[7]

Since 2015, Argentina has abstained from voting on every UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution supporting implementation and universalization of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, most recently in December 2018.[8] Argentina said it abstained from the draft 2018 resolution because of its objections to the convention’s definition and interoperability provision.[9]

Argentina has expressed concern at the use of cluster munitions. While serving as president of the Security Council in October 2014, Argentina said it was, “naturally deeply perturbed by the reports of the use of cluster bombs in densely populated areas” in Ukraine.[10] Argentina has voted in favor of UNGA resolutions condemning the use of cluster munitions in Syria, most recently in December 2018.[11] It has also voted in favor of Human Rights Council resolutions condemning the use of cluster munitions in Syria.[12]

Argentina is a State Party to the Mine Ban Treaty. It is also party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW).

Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) member, Association for Public Policy (Asociación para Politicas Publicas, APP) has campaigned for Argentina to join the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Use, production, transfer, and stockpiling

Argentina is not known to have ever used or exported cluster munitions. It does not currently produce or stockpile cluster munitions, but in the past both imported and stockpiled them, and had the beginnings of a production program.

Argentina has repeatedly stated that, “the Republic of Argentina doesn’t have cluster munitions, and it hasn’t utilized or transferred them.”[13] The government has said it has no intention to produce cluster munitions in the future.[14]

In the past, the Armed Forces Center for Technical and Scientific Research (Centro de Investigaciones Técnicas y Científicas de las Fuerzas Armadas, CITEFA) developed and initiated production of the CME 155mm artillery projectile, which contained 63 dual-purpose improved conventional munition (DPICM) submunitions equipped with a backup pyrotechnic self-destruct mechanism.[15] According to military officials, this effort did not reach full-scale production and was dismantled, and the projectiles were never fielded by the armed forces of Argentina.[16]

In May 2007, Argentina stated that it had already destroyed its stocks of cluster munitions.[17] In 2006, its military representatives told Human Rights Watch (HRW) that the stocks of French BLG-66 Belouga and US Rockeye air-dropped bombs were destroyed by 2005.[18]

[1] Statement of Argentina, Convention on Cluster Munitions Eighth Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 3 September 2018. Argentina previously voiced this position at the Seventh Meeting of States Parties in September 2017. Statement of Argentina, Convention on Cluster Munitions Seventh Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 4 September 2017.

[2] For details on Argentina’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), pp. 185–188.

[3] Statement of Argentina, Oslo Conference on Cluster Munitions, 22–23 February 2007. Notes by the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC)/Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF).

[4] Ibid.; and CMC, “CMC Report on the Lima Conference and Next Steps,” May 2007.

[5] In September 2011, Wikileaks released a United States (US) Department of State cable showing that US officials met with Argentina’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs during the Dublin negotiations of the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 15 May 2008. According to the cable, “The Argentine Foreign Ministry theoretically supports a total ban on cluster munitions but, in fact, expects and is counting on a decision of partial prohibition.” “Argentina on the Oslo Process,” US Department of State cable dated 19 May 2008, released by Wikileaks on 1 September 2011.

[6] CMC Latinoamerica Regional Briefing, Beirut, 15 September 2011. Notes by the CMC; and letter from the CMC to Jorge Enrique Tariana, Minister of Foreign Affairs, 31 May 2010. See also, Human Rights Watch and Landmine Action, Banning Cluster Munitions: Government Policy and Practice(Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, May 2009), pp. 186–187.

[7] At a regional workshop on cluster munitions in Santiago, Chile in December 2013, a representative from Argentina said there has been no change in the government’s position on joining since it adopted the convention in 2008. Statement of Argentina, Regional Workshop on Cluster Munitions, Santiago, 12 December 2014. Notes by the CMC.

[8]Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” UNGA Resolution 73/54, 5 December 2018. Argentina abstained from voting on similar resolutions in December of 2015 and 2016.

[9] Statement of Argentina, UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 6 November 2018.

[11]Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic,” UNGA Resolution 73/182, 17 December 2018. Argentina voted in favor of similar resolutions from 2013–2015 and in 2017.

[13] Statement of Argentina, Seventh Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, Geneva, 4 September 2017; and letter from Amb. Jorge Argüello, Permanent Mission of Argentina to the UN in New York, 13 March 2009.

[14] Interview with Alfredo Forti, Ministry of Defense, Buenos Aires, 31 March 2010.

[15] CITEFA, “Report Referring to Employment of Submunitions” (“Informe Referido a Empleo de Submuniciones”), undated, provided to Pax Christi Netherlands by the Permanent Mission of Argentina to the UN in Geneva, 14 June 2005; and Argentina, “Replies to Document CCW/GGE/X/WG.1/WP.2, Entitled ‘International Humanitarian Law and ERW,’” CCW/GGE/XI/WG.1/WP.10, 2 August 2005, p. 3. CITEFA is now CITEDEF (Instituto de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas para la Defensa).

[16] Interview with Navy Capitan (ret.) Carlos Nielsen, Advisor to the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Armed Forces, Buenos Aires, 31 March 2011; and remarks made to HRW by members of the Argentine delegation to the Latin American Regional Conference on Cluster Munitions, San José, 5 September 2007.

[17] Statement of Argentina, Lima Conference on Cluster Munitions, 24 May 2007. Notes by the CMC/WILPF.