Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 13 September 2021


State Party Somalia ratified the convention on 30 September 2015 after participating in several meetings of the convention. It last voted in favor of the annual United Nations (UN) resolution promoting the convention in December 2017. Somalia has condemned new use of cluster munitions.

Somalia provided its initial transparency report for the convention in October 2019, which formally confirmed it has never produced cluster munitions and possesses no stocks, including for research or training. It has not been possible to determine who used cluster munitions in the country’s border areas in the past.


The Somali Republic signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 3 December 2008, ratified it on 30 September 2015, and became a State Party on 1 March 2016.

Somalia reported in October 2019 that it plans to enact national implementing legislation to guide and enforce the convention’s provisions.[1]

Somalia submitted its initial Article 7 transparency report for the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 11 October 2019.[2] It provided an annual updated report in September 2020.[3]

Somalia attended one meeting of the Oslo Process that produced the convention, in Vienna, Austria in December 2007.[4]

Somalia last participated in a meeting of the convention in 2014.[5] It was invited, but did not attend, the first part of the convention’s Second Review Conference held virtually in November 2020.

In December 2020, Somalia was absent during the vote on a key UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution urging implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions.[6] It voted in favor of the annual UNGA resolution promoting the convention in 2015–2017, but was absent in 2018-2019.

Somalia has denounced new use of cluster munitions.[7] It has voted in favor of Human Rights Council resolutions expressing outrage at the use of cluster munitions in Syria, most recently in June 2020.[8]

Somalia is a party to the Mine Ban Treaty. It is not party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW).

Use, production, transfer, and stockpiling

In October 2019, Somalia formally reported that it has never produced cluster munitions and does not possess any stocks, including for research and training purposes.[9] Previously, in 2014, Somalia told States Parties that it was “not a user, producer, or stockpiling state” of cluster munitions.[10]

Cluster munitions remnants from past use by unknown actors have been cleared from the country’s border areas.[11]

Previous use

In March 2016, the governor of Somalia’s Gedo region, Mohamed Abdi Kalil, accused the Kenyan Defence Force (KDF) of “using illegal cluster bombs” in its air operation against the non-state armed group al-Shabaab near Bardere city on 15–23 January 2016.[12] Kenya, a signatory to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, denied the allegation.[13] A UN investigation found that Kenyan forces did conduct air strikes in the Gedo region in January 2016, but could not confirm if Kenyan forces used cluster munitions in the attacks.[14] On the basis of available evidence, the Monitor also could not conclusively determine if Kenya used cluster munitions in this incident.

A UN Monitoring Group investigation reported that al-Shabaab repurposed unexploded submunitions from BL755 cluster munitions as components for improvised explosive devices, according to an arms cache seized by anti-al-Shabaab forces in Bardera on 7 March 2016.[15]

Cluster munition remnants believed to date from the 1977–1978 Ogaden War between Somalia and Ethiopia have been cleared and destroyed from the border but it is unclear who was responsible for this use.[16] Somalia has commented that the cluster munition contamination near its border with Ethiopia dates from the “border wars of 1978–1984,” but has not indicated who was responsible for this use.[17]

[2] The report was originally due on 31 August 2016.

[3] As of 1 September 2021, it had not submitted a report for calendar year 2020, which was due by 30 April.

[4] For details on Somalia’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), p. 153.

[5] Somalia participated as an observer in the convention’s annual Meetings of States Parties in 2011–2012 and 2014 as well as intersessional meetings in 2013–2014. Somalia did not attend the First Review Conference in Dubrovnik, Croatia in September 2015.

[6]Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” UN General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 75/62, 7 December 2020.

[7] Statement of Somalia, Convention on Cluster Munitions Fifth Meeting of States Parties, San Jose, 2 September 2014.

[8] See, “Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic,” Human Rights Council Resolution 43/28, 22 June 2020. Somalia voted in favor of similar resolutions in 2013–2014 and 2016–2018.

[9] Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Forms B, C, D, and E, 11 October 2019.

[10] Statement of Somalia, Convention on Cluster Munitions Fifth Meeting of States Parties, San Jose, 2 September 2014.

[11] For example, in 2016, deminers found an unexploded submunition from a BL755 cluster bomb in Bardera (Baardheere) in Gedo region and found a PTAB-2.5M submunition in Dinsoor in the Bay region. Email from Mohammad Sediq Rashid, UNMAS, 8 June 2017.

[12] Mohamed Abdi Kalil (GovernorKalil), “‪#KDF‪ jets pounded #Bardere city area southern #Gedo region, killing Civilians, destroying livestock Using illegal cluster bombs #Somalia @UN.” 5 March 2016, 08:02 UTC, Tweet.

[13] In January 2016, a Somali media outlet reported an alleged cluster munition attack by Kenyan forces in the Gedo region and published photographs reportedly taken at the site of the attack that showed dead livestock and remnants of UK-made BL755 cluster bombs and their submunitions. “Losses shelling forces arrested Gedo and Juba,” Calanka Media, 24 January 2016 (no longer available online). See also, “Sawirro: Kenya Oo Qaaday Weerar Culus Oo Aar goosi Ah!!”(‘‘Kenya launches deadly retaliatory attack’’), Somalia Memo, 24 January 2016.

[14] UN Security Council, “Report of the Secretary-General on Somalia S/2016/430,” 9 May 2016, p. 10, para. 51. The January 2017 Report of the Secretary-General on Somalia did not include an update on the committee.

[15] Ibid.

[16] In April 2013, the director of the Somalia National Mine Action Authority (SNMAA) informed the Monitor that dozens of PTAB-2.5M and some AO-1SCh submunitions were found within a 30-kilometer radius of the Somali border town of Dolow. It is not possible to determine definitively who was responsible for this cluster munition use. The Soviet Union supplied both sides in the Ogaden War, and foreign military forces known to possess cluster munitions fought in support of Ethiopia, including the Soviet Union and Cuba. Email from Mohammed A. Ahmed, SNMAA, 17 April 2013. Photographs of the cluster munition remnants are available here.

[17] Statement of Somalia, Convention on Cluster Munitions Fifth Meeting of States Parties, San Jose, 2 September 2014.