Cluster Munition Ban Policy
Non-signatory Brazil has long expressed its objections to the convention. It has participated as an observer in several meetings of the convention, but not since 2014. Brazil abstained from voting on a key United Nations (UN) resolution supporting the convention in December 2020.
Brazil is a producer, exporter, and stockpiler of cluster munitions, but it has never used them.
The Federative Republic of Brazil has not acceded to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
Brazil’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated in 2018 that the government “recognizes the serious humanitarian problems caused by the use of cluster munitions” but cannot join the convention.
Brazil participated minimally in the Oslo Process that produced the Convention on Cluster Munitions and did not attend the formal negotiations in Dublin in May 2008. After the convention was adopted on 30 May 2008, Brazil’s then-Minister of Foreign Affairs Celso Amorim said that he considered cluster munitions to be an inhumane weapon that should be eliminated, and indicated Brazil would review its position on joining in future. However, by November 2008, Brazil said the government could not support the convention because it objected to the process that created it and did not believe the convention balances defense needs with humanitarian concerns.
Brazil has objected to the process of negotiating the convention outside UN auspices, calling it inconsistent with “the goal of promoting the adoption of universal, balanced, effective and non-discriminatory arms control instruments.” Brazil has claimed that certain provisions of the convention constitute “serious loopholes” and has falsely claimed the definition allows for the cluster munitions “equipped with technologically sophisticated mechanisms” that are “manufactured in a small number of countries with more advanced defense industries.” Brazil has also claimed that the convention’s effectiveness is “undermined” by the interoperability provisions on relations with states not party contained in Article 21.
Brazil has participated as an observer in a couple of meetings of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, but not since 2014. It was invited to, but did not attend the first part of the convention’s Second Review Conference held virtually in November 2020.
Brazil abstained from voting on the UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution supporting implementation and universalization of the Convention on Cluster Munitions in December 2020. It has abstained from voting on every UNGA resolution promoting the convention since 2015. Brazil often explains that it abstains because it objects to how the convention was negotiated as well as to certain provisions.
Brazil has voted in favor of UNGA resolutions expressing outrage at the use of cluster munitions in Syria, most recently in December 2020. It voted in favor of Human Rights Council resolutions that condemned the use of cluster munitions in Syria, most recently in June 2020.
Since 2008, there have been at least two legislative initiatives to ban cluster munitions in the lower house of Brazil’s National Congress, but neither progressed beyond the committee stage.
Brazil is a State Party to the Mine Ban Treaty.
Brazil is a State Party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) and in the past supported efforts to create a new CCW protocol that would have permitted the use of cluster munitions. Brazil has not proposed any further CCW work on cluster munitions since 2011, when the effort to create a new protocol on cluster munitions failed. This effectively ended CCW deliberations on the topic, leaving the Convention on Cluster Munitions as the sole international instrument dedicated to ending the suffering caused by these weapons.
Brazil has stated on several occasions that it has never used cluster munitions, most recently in November 2020.
Production, transfer, and stockpiling
Brazil has produced, exported, and stockpiles cluster munitions.
At least three Brazilian companies have produced cluster munitions, according to their own materials and standard reference works:
- Avibrás Aeroespacial SA has produced ASTROS surface-to-surface rockets with submunition warheads;
- Ares Aeroespacial e Defesa Ltda has produced the FZ-100 70mm air-to-surface rockets, similar to the Hydra M261 multipurpose submunitions; and
- Target Engenharia e Comércio Ltda has produced two types of cluster bombs (BLG-120 and BLG-252) for the Brazilian Air Force and, reportedly, for export.
It is unclear if any of these companies are currently producing cluster munitions.
Previously, in 2017, Avibrás did not deny continued production and claimed that its ASTROS cluster munition rockets are equipped with a “reliable self-destruct device” that it claims “complies with humanitarian principles and legislation” of the ban convention. This is not the first time that Avibrás has claimed that its cluster munition rockets “meet 100% of UN rules.” When equipped with a warhead containing submunitions the SS-60 or SS-80 rockets launched by the ASTROS system are banned by the Convention on Cluster Munitions. The company website no longer mentions the submunition warhead.
It is not clear when Brazil last transferred cluster munitions, but in the past, Brazil exported ASTROS-manufactured surface-to-surface rockets with submunition warheads to Iran, Iraq, Malaysia, and Saudi Arabia.
A Saudi Arabia-led coalition used ASTROS cluster munition rockets in Yemen on multiple occasions in 2015–2017, causing civilian harm. Previously, Saudi Arabian forces used ASTROS cluster munition rockets against Iraqi forces in 1991. Human Rights Watch (HRW) researchers also photographed abandoned stocks of ASTROS II rockets at an unsecured facility in Iraq in 2003.
In 2012, a major newspaper reported that Brazil sold cluster bombs made by Target Engenharia e Comércio Ltda to Zimbabwe a decade earlier.
In 2010, the Ministry of Defense stated that Brazil’s stockpile of cluster munitions was limited, and the cluster bombs held by the air force would soon be destroyed because they are outdated.
 Thiago de Araújo, “Bombas de fragmentação: as mortes no exterior que militares do Brasil não permitem evitar” (“Fragmentation bombs: the deaths abroad that the Brazilian military cannot avoid”), Sputnik Brazil, 13 March 2018.
 For more details on Brazil’s policy and practice regarding cluster munitions 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. 191–193.
 The remarks were made during a meeting of the National Congress Chamber of Deputies Committee on Foreign Affairs and National Defense. Mylena Fiori, “Brasil poderá aderir a acordo para acabar com produção de bombas cluster” (“Brazil may join the agreement to end production of cluster bombs”), Agencia Brasil, 17 June 2008.
 Statement of Brazil, Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on Cluster Munitions, Geneva, 7 November 2008. Notes by Landmine Action.
 See, statement of Brazil, UN General Assembly (UNGA) First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 31 October 2016; and “Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” UNGA Resolution 70/54, 7 December 2015.
 Statement of Brazil, UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 6 November 2020. The statement is identical to the one provided previously, in 2019. Statement of Brazil, UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 5 November 2019.
 Brazil attended the convention’s Second Meeting of States Parties in Beirut, Lebanon in September 2011 and intersessional meetings in Geneva in April 2014.
 “Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” UNGA Resolution 75/62, 7 December 2020.
 Statement of Brazil, UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 4 November 2015. Brazil repeated this position in 2016 and 2018–2020, but did not comment on its abstention from the vote in 2017.
 “Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic,” UNGA Resolution 75/193, 16 December 2020. Brazil voted in favor of similar resolutions in 2013–2014 and 2016–2019.
 See, “Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic,” Human Rights Council Resolution 43/28, 22 June 2020. Brazil voted in favor of similar resolutions in 2017–2018.
 Deputy Rubens Bueno introduced draft legislation to ban cluster munitions in February 2012, while Deputy Fernando Gabeira introduced similar legislation in February 2009. The 2012 legislation—Bill 3228/2012—was referred to committee for further consideration. Chamber of Deputies, Proposition PL-3228/2012. The 2009 bill was removed from consideration after Gabeira left office at the end of 2010. Chamber of Deputies, Proposition PL-4590/2009.
 Statement of Brazil, UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 6 November 2020. Previously, Brazil had last stated this information in 2018: Thiago de Araújo, “Bombas de fragmentação: as mortes no exterior que militares do Brasil não permitem evitar” (“Fragmentation bombs: the deaths abroad that the Brazilian military cannot avoid”), Sputnik Brazil, 13 March 2018.
 Statements of Brazil, CCW GGE on Cluster Munitions, Geneva, 8 April 2008, 16 February 2009, and 14 April 2009. Notes by Landmine Action.
 In 2010, a representative from Avibrás said that the company generates US$60–70 million per year from cluster munitions and claimed that cluster bombs produced by Avibrás have a failure rate of less than 1%. Statement by José de Sá Carvalho Jr, Commercial Director–Brazil and Americas, Avibrás Aeroespacial SA, Hearing Committee on Foreign Affairs and National Defense of the Chamber of Deputies, Brasilia, 4 May 2010; and “Report on the Hearing,” provided by Gustavo Oliveira Vieira, Brazil Campaign to Ban Landmines and Cluster Bombs, received 13 August 2010. In a letter to the minister of defense, the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) noted this claim and stated, “However, failure rates in combat are always higher than failure rates in tests and so reliability performance in tests does not prevent the humanitarian harm that is caused in reality.” Letter from the CMC to Nelson Jobim, Minister of Defense, 17 May 2010.
 Brazilian Association of the Industries of Defense Materials and Security, “Product List, 2000 to December 2005,” undated.
 Luiza Souto, “Brazilian company denies NGO denunciation on cluster bombs in Yemen,” Globo, 3 March 2017.
 Leandro Prazeres, “Brasil dá incentivos fiscais para armamento banido pela ONU,” UOL Notícias, 12 September 2014.
 Mark Hiznay, “Subsidizing Brazil’s production of cluster munitions,” Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor blog, 18 September 2014.
 Terry J. Gander and Charles Q. Cutshaw, eds., Jane’s Ammunition Handbook 2001–2002 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 2001); and Jonathan Beaty and S.C. Gwynne, “Scandals: Not Just a Bank,” Time Magazine, 2 September 1991. Brazil exported the ASTROS system to Malaysia in 2002 and an additional sale of more launch units was completed in 2010, but it is not known if the ammunition types include the variant with a submunition payload. Federative Republic of Brazil, UN Register of Conventional Arms, Submission for Calendar Year 2002, 28 April 2004. It reported the transfer of 12 launch units. The Arms Transfers Database of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) notes that the US$300 million deal was signed in 2007 and deliveries began in 2009.
 Amnesty International, “Yemen: Brazilian cluster munitions suspected in Saudi Arabia-led coalition attack,” 30 October 2015; HRW, “Technical Briefing Note: Cluster Munitions in Yemen,” February 2016; HRW, “Why Brazil Should Ban Cluster Munitions,” 9 August 2017; HRW, “Yemen: Cluster Munitions Wound Children,” 17 March 2017; and HRW, “Yemen: Brazil-Made Cluster Munitions Harm Civilians,” 23 December 2016.
 HRW interviews with former explosive ordnance disposal personnel from a western commercial clearance firm and a Saudi military officer with first-hand experience in clearing the unexploded submunitions from ASTROS rockets, names withheld, in Geneva, 2001–2003.
 Mark Hiznay, “Subsidizing Brazil’s production of cluster munitions,” Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor blog, 18 September 2014.
 Rubens Valente, “Brasil vendeu bombas condenadas a ditador do Zimbábue” (“Brazil sells condemned bombs to Zimbabwe dictator”), Folha de São Paolo, 22 July 2012. A review by Folha de São Paolo of 1,572 pages of Ministry of Defense documents obtained under the Law on Access to Information shows that, in the period from January 2001 to May 2002, Brazil transferred 104 BLG-250K, four BLG-60K cluster bombs, and various components for BLG-500K, BLG-250K, and BLG-60k cluster bombs to Zimbabwe. This was the most recent period that could be obtained by Folha de São Paolo, as the information is considered confidential for the first 10 years. Email from Rubens Valente, Folha de São Paolo, 24 July 2012.
 Statement by Marcelo Mário de Holanda Coutinho, Ministry of Defense, Hearing Committee on Foreign Affairs and National Defense of the Chamber of Deputies, Brasilia, 4 May 2010; and “Report on the Hearing,” provided by Gustavo Oliveira Vieira, Brazil Campaign to Ban Landmines and Cluster Bombs, received 13 August 2010.
Mine Ban Policy
The Federative Republic of Brazil signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 3 December 1997 and ratified it on 30 April 1999, becoming a State Party on 1 October 1999. Legislation to enforce the antipersonnel mine prohibition domestically was enacted in 2001.
Brazil regularly attends meetings of the treaty, including the Third Review Conference in Maputo in June 2014, and more recently the Seventeenth Meeting of States Parties in Geneva in November 2018, where it provided a general statement and a statement on the financial status of the convention. Brazil also attended the intersessional meetings of the treaty in Geneva in May 2019.
On 5 December 2018, Brazil voted in favor of UN General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 73/61, promoting universalization and implementation of the convention, as it has done in previous years.
Brazil is party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) and its Amended Protocol II on landmines and Protocol V on explosive remnants of war. Brazil is not party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
Production, transfer, stockpile destruction, and use
Brazil is a former antipersonnel mine producer, importer, and exporter. Brazil reports that production and export ceased in 1989. At least two types of antipersonnel mines were produced by Brazil: the NM T-AB-1, manufactured by IBQ Indústrias Químicas (formerly Britanite Indústria Química Ltda), and the NM AE T1 antipersonnel mine, manufactures by Química Tupan AS.
In the past, Brazil imported antipersonnel mines from Belgium (the NM M M-409) and Austria (DFC-19). Brazilian-made antipersonnel mines have been used or stockpiled in Ecuador, Libya, Mozambique, Nicaragua, and Peru.
Since 2012, Brazil has stated that it has not produced or exported landmines since signing the Mine Ban Treaty. Brazil has never used antipersonnel mines.
Brazil completed destruction of its stockpile of approximately 27,852 antipersonnel mines in March 2003, ahead of its 1 October 2003 treaty-mandated destruction deadline. Brazil initially retained 17,000 mines for training purposes, but this was reduced to 10,051 by the end of 2009. Brazil previously stated its intention to keep mines for training up to 2019. At the end of 2018, Brazil reported retaining 364 mines for training and research.
In 2011, Human Rights Watch (HRW) documented the use of Brazilian-produced T-AB-1 plastic antipersonnel mines in Libya by Qaddafi’s government forces in six separate locations. In December 2011, Brazil condemned the landmine use and said it intended to make a financial contribution to Libya’s mine action program and provide technical cooperation. Brazilian officials said that an internal investigation had been opened into the origins and transfer of the T-AB-1 mines to Libya, but the results were not known as of September 2013.
 “Implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction,” UNGA Resolution 73/61, 5 December 2018.
 Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form E, 30 April 2004.
 Ibid., Form H, Table 2.
 In March 2003, Brazil reported that it possessed the DFC19 directional fragmentation antipersonnel mine, produced by Dynamit Nobel Graz (DNG) of Austria. Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form H, 17 March 2003.
 See, Landmine Monitor Report 2001, p. 110 (Mozambique), and p. 328 (Ecuador), and Landmine Monitor Report 1999, p. 266 (Nicaragua). The United States Department of Defense reports that Brazilian mines were used in Ecuador and Peru. See ORDATA Database.
 Brazil has also reported: “In early 1998, the Brazilian Armed Forces received its last shipment of landmines, which had been bought in 1996 and produced by the manufacturer in 1997.” See, Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report 2012 (for calendar year 2011), Form E; Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) Amended Protocol II Report 2013 (for calendar year 2012), Form C, 3 April 2013. Before 2012, it stated, “Brazil has not produced or exported landmines since 1989.” See Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report 2011 (for calendar year 2010), Form E; CCW Amended Protocol II Report 2010 (for calendar year 2009), Form C, 22 July 2010.
 Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report 2010 (for calendar year 2009), Form D.
 Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report 2011 (for calendar year 2010), Forms D and G.
 Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form D, 26 February 2019.
 HRW, “Landmines in Libya: Technical Briefing Note,” 19 July 2011.
 There is no export record of the shipments because arms export records are not held for longer than 10 years. HRW meeting with Brazilian delegation to Intersessional Standing Committee Meetings of the Mine Ban Treaty, Geneva, 27 June 2011. In June 2011, the ICBL asked that Brazil publicly condemn the use of antipersonnel mines in Libya and provide detailed information on the transfer of T-AB-1 antipersonnel mines to Libya, including the date of manufacture and transfer, as well as the number of mines exported. ICBL letter to Antonio de Aguiar Patriota, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Brazil, 13 June 2011.