Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 04 September 2020

Ten-Year Review: State Party Afghanistan ratified the convention on 8 September 2011 and enacted implementation legislation to enforce its provisions in September 2018. Afghanistan has participated in most of the convention’s meetings. It has voted in favor of annual United Nations (UN) resolutions promoting the convention and has condemned new use of cluster munitions.

In its initial transparency report for the convention, Afghanistan stated that it has not used, produced, or transferred cluster munitions. The national armed forces do not stockpile cluster munitions, but cluster munitions are among abandoned weapons that are discovered, reported and destroyed.


The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 3 December 2008, ratified on 8 September 2011, and became a State Party on 1 March 2012.

Afghanistan enacted implementation legislation for the Convention on Cluster Munitions in September 2018. According to the amended Law on Firearms, Ammunition and Explosive Materials, “production, importation, transportation, use, preservation, purchase, sale and storage of anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions or their key components are punishable by the perpetrator in accordance with the law.”[1] The law was prepared following a 2012 review that recommended existing legislation be amended and it is reviewed further under Interpretive issues.[2]

Afghanistan submitted its initial Article 7 transparency report for the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 30 August 2012 and has provided updated annual reports since, most recently in June 2020.[3]

Afghanistan participated in most meetings of the Oslo Process that created the Convention on Cluster Munitions, but despite actively supporting the ban objective it did not endorse the Wellington Declaration that would have committed it to participating fully in the formal negotiations of the convention. It also did not attend the negotiations in Dublin in May 2008, not even as an observer.[4] Afghanistan attended the convention’s Oslo Signing Conference in December 2008 as an observer, but unexpectedly signed the convention near the end of the conference after the representative announced that he had received instructions and authorization to do so.[5]

Afghanistan plays a positive and active role in the work of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. It has attended most of the convention’s Meetings of States Parties, including the Ninth Meeting of States Parties in Geneva in September 2019. It participated in the First Review Conference in Dubrovnik, Croatia in September 2015 as well as intersessional meetings in Geneva in 2011–2015.[6] Afghanistan is serving as coordinator of the convention’s working group on clearance and risk reduction from 2019–2021.

In December 2019, Afghanistan voted in favor of a UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution on the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which urges states outside the convention to “join as soon as possible.”[7] Afghanistan has voted in favor of the annual UNGA resolution promoting the convention since it was first introduced in 2015.

Afghanistan has condemned the use of cluster munitions and it has voted in favor of UNGA resolutions condemning the use of cluster munitions in Syria.[8] At the First Review Conference, Afghanistan condemned any cluster munition use by any actor and commented that “States Parties should join hands to end all suffering caused by these indiscriminate and inhumane weapons.”[9]

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

Interpretive issues

Afghanistan’s implementing legislation outlines prohibited activities including use, production, stockpiling and transfer, but it does not include assistance with banned activities. It does not prohibit assistance in the form of direct or indirect investment of public and private funds in companies that manufacture cluster munitions.

Use, production, and transfer

In its initial Article 7 report, Afghanistan declared that it has no “production industry” for manufacturing cluster munitions.[10] Previously, in 2011, Afghanistan stated that it “does not use, produce, or transfer Cluster Munitions in the country.”[11]

The Monitor is not aware of any use of cluster munitions in Afghanistan since 2001–2002, when United States (US) forces used 1,228 cluster bombs containing 248,056 submunitions in 232 strikes on locations across the country.[12]Soviet forces used air-dropped and rocket-delivered cluster munitions during their invasion and occupation of Afghanistan from 1979–1989, while a non-state armed group used rocket-delivered cluster munitions during the civil war in the 1990s.[13]

Stockpiling and destruction

In September 2013, Afghanistan informed States Parties that it “destroyed all its cluster munitions stocks before” the convention entered into force and therefore complies with its obligations under Article 3 of the Convention on Cluster Munitions.[14] In October 2013, it stated that concerning cluster munitions, “Afghanistan is pleased to have destroyed all weaponry of this kind within its military stockpile.”[15]

In 2013, the Ministry of Defence said the Afghan National Forces does not possess cluster munition stocks.[16] Additional stocks abandoned in the past by the government may continue to be discovered.

Foreign stockpiling and transit

The amended Law on Firearms, Ammunition and Explosive Materials does not address transit and foreign stockpiling of cluster munitions by non-State Parties in its territory or airspace.

The US State Department outlined US concerns over how Afghanistan would interpret the convention’s prohibition on transit and foreign stockpiling, as well as Article 21 on “interoperability” or joint military operations with states not party to the convention in a cable made public by Wikileaks in 2011.[17] The December 2008 cable also revealed that, “The United States currently has a very small stockpile of cluster munitions in Afghanistan.”


[1] Decree No. 307, published in the Official Gazette (No. 855) of 1384 as Annex no. 1 of the Law on Firearms, Ammunitions and Explosive Materials, enacted 5 September 2018. Unofficial translation by the Monitor. Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form A, 20 April 2019.

[2] Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form A, 25 April 2016. A joint technical committee prepared draft implementing legislation for both the Mine Ban Treaty and the Convention on Cluster Munitions and included the government’s Department of Mine Clearance, Mine Action Coordination Center of Afghanistan (MACCA), the Mine Dog Center, Afghan Landmine Survivors’ Organization (ALSO), and the ICRC. Statement of Afghanistan, Convention on Cluster Munitions Third Meeting of States Parties, 13 September 2012. See also Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form A, 30 August 2012.

[3] Afghanistan’s initial Article 7 report covered calendar year 2011, and subsequent reports have covered the previous calendar year.

[4] For details on Afghanistan’s cluster munition policy and practice through early 2009, see Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Landmine Action, Banning Cluster Munitions: Government Policy and Practice (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, May 2009), pp. 27–28.

[5] Two United States (US) Department of State cables subsequently made public by Wikileaks have shown how US officials had sought assurances from the highest levels of the Afghan government that Afghanistan would not join the convention; however, during the Oslo Signing Conference President Karzai decided that Afghanistan should sign the convention. “Afghan views on cluster munitions and Oslo process,” US Department of State cable 08KABUL346 dated 12 February 2008, released by Wikileaks on 20 May 2011.

[6] Afghanistan did not attend the Eighth Meeting of States Parties in Geneva in September 2018 or the Seventh Meeting of States Parties in Geneva in September 2017.

[7]Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” UNGA Resolution 74/62, 12 December 2019.

[8]Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic,” UNGA Resolution 69/189, 18 December 2014. Afghanistan was absent from the vote on the annual UNGA resolution in 2015–2017 and abstained from the vote on the annual resolution in 2018–2019.

[9] Statement of Afghanistan, Convention on Cluster Munitions First Review Conference, Dubrovnik, 9 September 2015.

[11] Statement by Dr. Zia Nezam, Senior Advisor, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Convention on Cluster Munitions Second Meeting of States Parties, Beirut, 14 September 2011.

[13] Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) Fact Sheet prepared by HRW, “Cluster Munitions in the Asia-Pacific Region,” October 2008.

[14] Statement of Afghanistan, Convention on Cluster Munitions Fourth Meeting of States Parties, Lusaka, 10 September 2013. In April 2014, Afghanistan again stated that it destroyed all stockpiles of cluster munitions before the convention entered into force and no longer has a stockpile. Statement of Afghanistan, Convention on Cluster Munitions Intersessional Meetings, Geneva, 8 April 2014. Notes by the CMC.

[15] Statement of Afghanistan, UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 14 October 2013.

[17] According to the cable, the US interprets the convention as allowing “U.S. forces to store, transfer, and use U.S. cluster munitions in the territory of a State Party” and states that “the United States reads the phrase ‘military cooperation and operations’ in Article 21 to include all preparations for future military operations, transit of cluster munitions through the territory of a State Party, and storage and use of cluster munitions on the territory of a State Party.” “Demarche to Afghanistan on cluster munitions,” US Department of State cable 08STATE134777 dated 29 December 2008, released by Wikileaks on 1 December 2010.