Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 08 July 2019

Summary: Non-signatory Vietnam acknowledges the human suffering caused by cluster munitions, but it has not taken any steps to accede to the convention. Vietnam has participated in the convention’s meetings. It abstained from voting on a key United Nations (UN) resolution promoting the convention in December 2018.

Vietnam states that it has never used, produced, transferred, or stockpiled cluster munitions. The United States (US) used air-delivered cluster munitions extensively in Vietnam in the 1960s and 1970s.


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

Officials often state that Vietnam is studying the convention, but no steps have been taken to join it over the past decade. [1] Vietnam says it supports the convention’s humanitarian objectives, but cannot consider joining until it is confident it can meet the convention’s obligations. [2] Vietnam is concerned that it would not be able to meet the convention’s obligation to clear contaminated areas within 10 years. [3]

Vietnam has long raised the need for the convention to have a “mechanism” for ensuring international support and cooperation and remains concerned by the way the convention lists “proportional responsibility for victim assistance and remnant clearance first in affected countries, most of which are developing countries.” Vietnam would like cluster munition “users, producers and exporters” to join the convention and take responsibility “for assisting affected countries.” [4]

Vietnam participated in two international Oslo Process conferences to develop the convention text, but attended the formal negotiations in Dublin in May 2008 and the Oslo Signing Conference in December 2008 only as an observer. [5]

Vietnam participated in a regional conference on cluster munitions in Bali, Indonesia in 2009 and an international conference in Santiago, Chile in 2010.

Vietnam has participated as an observer in the convention’s meetings, but it did not attend the Eighth Meeting of States Parties in Geneva in September 2018. [6] Vietnam has attended regional workshops on the convention, most recently in Manila, Philippines on 18–19 June 2019. [7] It also attended an Asia-Pacific workshop on the convention in Vientiane, Lao PDR in April 2019. [8]

In December 2018, Vietnam abstained from the vote on a key UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution, which urges states outside the Convention on Cluster Munitions to “join as soon as possible.” [9] Vietnam has abstained from the vote on this annual UNGA resolution promoting the convention since it was first introduced in 2015.

Vietnam is not party to the Mine Ban Treaty. Vietnam signed the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) in 1981, but never ratified.

Use, production, transfer, and stockpiling

Vietnam told States Parties in 2012 that, “We do not produce, store, use or encourage to [sic] use cluster munitions.” [10]

In the past, some officials have said that Vietnam does not stockpile cluster munitions, but others were less certain. [11] A 2010 position paper states that “foreign reports” show that Vietnam has never used, produced, transferred, or stockpiled cluster munitions. [12]

However, Jane’s Information Group cites the Vietnam Air Force as possessing KMGU submunition dispensers. [13]

The US used air-delivered cluster munitions extensively in Vietnam in the 1960s and 1970s, creating a legacy of contamination.

 [1] For example, in a February 2014 interview in The People’s Army Newspaper, Deputy Minister of Defense, Lt. Gen. Nguyen Chi Vinh, said that before Vietnam can accede to the convention it must “research and have an overall evaluation on interests, limits, roadmap, time frame and the most important thing: the resources to implement the contents of that convention.” “Mine clearance needs both domestic, international resources,” Vietnam News Agency, 12 March 2014.

 [2] In September 2012, Vietnam told States Parties of its “strong support for the humanitarian goal of the Convention” but said it would “not be in a position to complete clearance under the Article 4 deadline of ten years.” Vietnam said, “states who have produced, used or abandoned cluster munitions must be accountable for the implementation of obligations under the Convention, including the clearance and destruction of cluster munitions.” Statement of Vietnam, Convention on Cluster Munitions Third Meeting of States Parties, Oslo, 11 September 2012. In December 2011, Vietnam’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs emphasized that “Viet Nam believes that those responsibilities should be laid with countries that had produced, used and exported cluster munitions. Only when this matter is resolved in a fair manner can we assure the universalization and effective implementation of the Convention.” He also expressed concern with the convention’s 10-year deadline. For Vietnam as a state that is “seriously affected by cluster munitions and with limited resources.” Statement by Le Luong Minh, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, at the workshop on Joint Efforts in Mitigating the Consequences of Bomb and Mine Remnants of War, Hanoi, 5 December 2011.

 [3] Explanation of Vote on UNGA Draft Resolution L.49/Rev.1, Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, General Assembly, Official Records, 70th Session: First Committee, 24th Meeting, New York, 4 November 2015.

 [4] Statement of Vietnam, Convention on Cluster Munitions Intersessional Meetings, Geneva, 7 April 2014.

 [5] For more details on Vietnam’s cluster munition policy and practice up to early 2009, see Human Rights Watch and Landmine Action, Banning Cluster Munitions: Government Policy and Practice (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, May 2009), pp. 261–262.

 [6] Vietnam has participated as an observer in every Meeting of States Parties of the convention except in 2014 and 2018. It attended the convention’s First Review Conference in 2015 and intersessional meetings in 2011–2014.

 [7]Asia-Pacific Workshop on CCM Universalization,” Convention on Cluster Munitions Quarterly Newsletter, April 2019.

 [8] Regional Seminar on Landmines, Cluster Munitions and Explosive Remnants of War, Vientiane, Lao DPR, 29–30 April 2019. See, “Experts Discuss Landmine-related Risks At A Regional Seminar,” Lao News Agency, 2 May 2019.

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

 [10] Statement of Vietnam, Convention on Cluster Munitions Third Meeting of States Parties, Oslo, 11 September 2012.

 [11] During a Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) mission in May 2010, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official said there were no stocks, but a Ministry of Defense official was not clear on the issue. Thomas Nash, “Report on Cluster Munition Coalition Visit to Vietnam, 10–11 May 2010.”

 [12] “Vietnam’s Position on Cluster Munition Convention,” undated, provided to Aotearoa New Zealand CMC on 26 May 2010.

 [13] Robert Hewson, ed., Jane’s Air-Launched Weapons, Issue 44 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 2004), p. 848.