South Sudan

Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 25 June 2019

Summary: Non-signatory South Sudan announced in September 2017 that it would accede to the convention and the National Assembly is now considering the accession package. South Sudan’s officials have expressed interest in joining the convention since it became an independent state in July 2011. South Sudan has participated as an observer in meetings of the convention, most recently in September 2018.

South Sudan states that it has not used, produced, or stockpiled cluster munitions. It has denied using cluster bombs near Bor in 2014 during fighting between opposition fighters and government forces receiving air-support from Uganda.


The Republic of South Sudan has not yet met its pledge made in September 2017 promising it would accede to the Convention on Cluster Munitions after the executive Council of Ministers gave its unanimous approval to the proposed accession.[1] In September 2018, South Sudan reported to States Parties that the National Assembly was in its second reading of the ratification document, after which it requires a final reading.[2]

South Sudan has expressed its support for the convention and desire to join since it became an independent state on 9 July 2011.

South Sudan has participated as an observer in meetings of the convention since 2011, most recently the Eighth Meeting of States Parties in September 2018.[3]

South Sudan was absent from the vote on a key UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution in December 2018 that urges states outside the Convention on Cluster Munitions to “join as soon as possible.”[4] It voted in favor of the annual UNGA resolution promoting the convention in 2015 and 2017, but was absent from the 2016 vote.

South Sudan joined the Mine Ban Treaty on 11 November 2011 through the rarely used process of “succession.”[5] It is not party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons.

Production, transfer, and stockpiling

The Monitor has seen no evidence to indicate past use, production, export, or stockpiling of cluster munitions by the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) prior to the country becoming an independent state.

South Sudan stated in 2011 that it does not stockpile cluster munitions.[6] In 2014, South Sudan again stated that it “does not produce nor possess any cluster munitions” and declared, “we do not intend to acquire or use cluster bombs.”[7]


Previous use

Uganda has denied using cluster bombs outside of Bor, the capital of South Sudan’s Jonglei State in early 2014, when it was providing air support to an operation by the government of South Sudan against opposition forces.[8] Remnants of Soviet/Russian cluster bombs including intact unexploded submunitions were found by a major road 16 kilometers south of Bor.[9]

South Sudan denied using cluster munitions in the conflict and denied any Ugandan use of the weapons.[10] It has also described the use as an “unfortunate incident” and pledged not to use cluster munitions.[11]

The use of cluster munitions in South Sudan received strong media coverage as well as public outcry and condemnations.[12] On 27 May 2014, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2155, which noted “with serious concern reports of the indiscriminate use of cluster munitions” in Jonglei State in February 2014 and urged “all parties to refrain from similar such use in the future.”[13]

No other cluster munition use has been documented in South Sudan. Prior to independence, numerous independent sources documented cluster munition remnants, including unexploded submunitions, in what is now South Sudan, indicating that the armed forces of Sudan sporadically used air-dropped cluster munitions there between 1995 and 2000.[14]

[1] Statement of South Sudan, made by Jurkuch Barach Jurkuch, Chairperson of National Mine Action Authority of South Sudan, Convention on Cluster Munitions Seventh Meeting of States Parties, 4–6 September 2017; and Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC), “South Sudan Bans Cluster Munitions,” 5 September 2017.

[2] Statement of South Sudan, Convention on Cluster Munitions Eighth Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 3 September 2018.

[3] South Sudan participated as an observer in the convention’s Meetings of States Parties in 2011, 2012, 2014, and 2017 as well as the First Review Conference in 2015. It has also attended regional workshops on the convention, most recently in Kampala, Uganda in May 2015.

[4] “Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” UNGA Resolution 73/54, 5 December 2018.

[5] According to the UN Office of Legal Affairs, the Mine Ban Treaty took effect for South Sudan on 9 July 2011, the date of state independence and succession. In 2011, a South Sudan representative told the CMC that the government would consider accession to the Convention on Cluster Munitions after joining the Mine Ban Treaty. CMC meeting with South Sudan delegation to the Convention on Cluster Munitions Second Meeting of States Parties, in Beirut, 14 September 2011. Notes by the CMC.

[6] Statement of South Sudan, Convention on Cluster Munitions Second Meeting of States Parties, Beirut, 14 September 2011.

[7] Statement of South Sudan, Convention on Cluster Munitions Fifth Meeting of States Parties, San José, 3 September 2014.

[8] In February 2014, evidence emerged showing that in the period since mid-December 2013 cluster munitions were used outside of Bor during a conflict between the opposition forces loyal to South Sudan’s former Vice President Riek Machar and Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) government forces, with air support for the SPLA provided by Uganda. Human Rights Watch press release, “South Sudan: Investigate New Cluster Bomb Use,” 15 February 2014.

[9] The UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) report noted “UNMAS found physical evidence of the use of cluster munitions in the Malek area of Bor County, approximately 16 kilometres south of Bor along the Juba-Bor Road.” The remnants of at least eight RBK-250-275 cluster bombs and an unknown quantity of intact unexploded AO-1SCh fragmentation submunitions were found in an area that was not known to be contaminated before. UNMISS, “Conflict in South Sudan: A Human Rights Report,” 8 May 2014.

[10] See, Jacey Fortin, “The Bad Bomb: Cluster Munitions, Cold Cases And A Case of Blame Game in South Sudan,” International Business Times, 12 March 2014. Both South Sudanese and Ugandan forces are believed to possess fixed wing aircraft and helicopters capable of delivering air-dropped cluster munitions, such as the RBK-250-275 AO-1SCh cluster bomb, while South Sudan’s opposition forces are not believed to possess these means of delivery.

[11] It said that a joint investigation conducted with the UN could not determine who used the cluster munitions found in Bor. Statement of South Sudan, Convention on Cluster Munitions Fifth Meeting of States Parties, San José, 3 September 2014.

[12] Statement by Margot Wallström, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sweden, Conference on Disarmament, Geneva, 2 March 2015; Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement, “Norway condemns use of cluster bombs in South Sudan,” 22 February 2014; and statement by Wylbur C. Simuusa of Zambia, President of the Fourth Meeting of States Parties of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, 14 February 2014. Approximately 30 countries have expressed concern at or condemned cluster munition use in South Sudan in resolutions since 2014: Argentina, Australia, Cambodia, Chad, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Ecuador, France, Guatemala, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, South Korea, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mauritania, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Peru, Portugal, Russia, Rwanda, Slovenia, the United Kingdom, and the United States

[13] See, UN Security Council press statement, “Security Council, Adopting Resolution 2155 (2014), extends mandate of mission in South Sudan,” 27 May 2014.

[14] Virgil Wiebe and Titus Peachey, “Clusters of Death: The Mennonite Central Committee Cluster Bomb Report,” July 2000, ch. 4. Landmine Action photographed a Rockeye-type cluster bomb with Chinese language external markings in Yei in 2006. Additionally, clearance personnel in Sudan have identified a variety of submunitions, including the Spanish-manufactured ESPIN 21, US-produced M42 and Mk-118 (Rockeye), and Soviet-manufactured PTAB-1.5. Handicap International, Circle of Impact: The Fatal Footprint of Cluster Munitions on People and Communities (Brussels: HI, May 2007), p. 55.