+   *    +     +     
About Us 
The Issues 
Our Research Products 
Order Publications 
Multimedia 
Press Room 
Resources for Monitor Researchers 
Donate now
Stay informed
Email Notification Receive notifications when this Country Profile is updated.

Sections



Send us your feedback on this profile

Send the Monitor your feedback by filling out this form. Responses will be channeled to editors, but will not be available online. Click if you would like to send an attachment. If you are using webmail, send attachments to .

Colombia

Last Updated: 02 September 2013

Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Commitment to the Convention on Cluster Munitions

Convention on Cluster Munitions status

Signatory

Participation in Convention on Cluster Munitions meetings

Attended Third Meeting of States Parties in Oslo, Norway in September 2012, and intersessional meetings in Geneva in April 2013

Key developments

Ratification process underway

Policy

The Republic of Colombia signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 3 December 2008.

As of 1 July 2013, Colombia’s ratification legislation for the convention was awaiting a Constitutional Court review to ensure its compliance with the Constitution of Colombia.

Law 1604 approving ratification of the Convention on Cluster Munitions was enacted on 12 December 2012, concluding a lengthy process of legislative approval.[1] The House of Representatives approved the draft ratification legislation, Bill 244, on 15 November 2012, after it received Senate approval as Bill 174 on 30 August 2012.[2] Civil society has been consulted in the course of process to ratify the convention.[3] Colombia has provided regular updates on its ratification efforts throughout the process.[4]

Law 1604 incorporates the Convention on Cluster Munitions into domestic law, but separate implementation legislation is also planned.

Colombia participated in several meetings of the Oslo Process that produced the convention and said that its decision to join stemmed from its concern about the “humanitarian impact” of cluster munitions.[5]

Colombia has continued to actively engage in the work of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. It attended the convention’s Third Meeting of States Parties in Oslo, Norway in September 2012 and made two statements. Colombia attended intersessional meetings of the convention in Geneva in April 2013, but did not make any statements.

Colombia has not made a national statement to express concern at Syria’s cluster munition use, but it voted in favor of a UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution on 15 May 2013 that strongly condemned “the use by the Syrian authorities of…cluster munitions.”[6]

The Colombian Campaign to Ban Landmines (Campaña Colombiana contra Minas, CCCM) promotes the Convention on Cluster Munitions, including its ratification. On 1 August 2012, CCCM representatives and landmine survivors visited the Colombian Congress and promoted ratification of the ban convention with key politicians, including the President and Vice President of the Second Commission of the Chamber of Representatives.[7]

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

Interpretive issues

Colombia provided its views on certain important issues related to interpretation and implementation of the convention in a March 2010 response to a Monitor questionnaire.[8] The government “absolutely rejects and prohibits any manner of transfer or storage of foreign cluster bombs in Colombian territory,” as well as “military operations with states not party to the convention in which they carry out exercises or actions prohibited by the Convention.” It also prohibits investment in production of cluster munitions. In addition, “Colombia considers that the countries that are still not a part of this convention can take steps toward honoring the spirit of the convention.” Colombia reaffirmed its position on all these interpretive issues in a May 2011 response to the Monitor.[9]

Production and transfer

In May 2011, Colombia affirmed in a letter to the Monitor that it has never produced cluster munitions.[10] In the past, it imported them from Chile, Israel, and the United States (US). In March 2010, Colombia stated that it “has not transferred Cluster Bombs to a third state.”[11]

In 2012, Chile’s Ministry of National Defense provided the Monitor with a document detailing the export of a total of 191 cluster bombs to Colombia in 1994 (55 250kg cluster bombs, four air-dropped 250kg cluster bombs, and one fin stabilizer for a CB-250kg cluster bomb) and in 1997 (132 250kg cluster bombs).[12]

Past use

In May 2009, Colombia’s Minister of Defense Juan Manuel Santos acknowledged that the Colombian Armed Forces have used cluster munitions in the past “to destroy clandestine airstrips and camps held by illegal armed groups,” but noted the submunitions sometimes did not explode and “became a danger to the civilian population.”[13]

In an April 2012 letter to the Monitor, a Ministry of External Relations official stated that the Colombian Air Force decided to stop using cluster munitions after an evaluation found that they did not meet the operational requirements or needs of Colombia.[14] According to the letter, every military operation carried out by the Colombian Air Force includes a process of evaluation, planning and execution, based on the requirements under international humanitarian law. The letter states that a background check and review of historical records are being undertaken to investigate the use of cluster munitions, in order to comply with the ban convention on the clearance of remnants if there are any. The letter noted that to date there have been no reports of accidents caused by cluster munition use.

In 2011, the Monitor reported on the case of alleged cluster munition use by the Colombian Air Force at Santo Domingo in the municipality of Tame (Arauca) on 13 December 1998.[15] At the time, the incident was attributed to a car bomb detonated by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia-Ejército del Pueblo, FARC), but a subsequent investigation showed that a World War II-era “cluster adapter” of US origin was used to disperse several 20lb (9kg) fragmentation bombs during the attack.[16]

In its April 2012 letter to the Monitor, the Ministry of External Relations noted that separate judicial processes concerning the events of 13 December 1998 were before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the Supreme Court of Justice and said “we do not find it appropriate to make pronouncements in the Monitor reports while the judicial process is still taking place and while there is not a clear definition of all the aspects related to the case. We estimate that to ratify that this weapon has been used by the military force, without first knowing a final court decision, would undermine the role of the courts in the determination of the judicial truth.”[17]

On 18 December 2012, the Inter-American Human Rights Court published its 30 November 2012 verdict on the Santo Domingo case, which found: (1) the ANM1A2 bomb meets the definition of a cluster munition; and (2) the bomb was used by the Colombian Air Force.[18] Under Section 210 of the verdict, the Inter-American Human Rights Court concluded, “taking into consideration the conclusions of the sentence of the Penal Court 12 and confirmed by the Superior Tribunal in its sentence of 15 June 2011, that the ANM1A2 device landed at 10:02:09 in the morning of 13 December 1998 fell on the main street of Santo Domingo, causing the death of 17 alleged victims and injuring 27 others.”[19]

According to the Inter-American Human Rights Court decision, Colombia has victims of cluster bombs and should be viewed as a state that should implement the Convention on Cluster Munitions provisions requiring victim assistance.

Together with Santo Tomas University, the CCCM conducted a detailed study on the characteristics of the bombs used in Santo Domingo that concluded they fall within the definition of a cluster munition in the Convention on Cluster Munitions.[20]

Stockpiling and destruction

On 24 November 2009, Colombia announced the completion of the destruction of its stockpile of cluster munitions.[21] In total, Colombia destroyed 72 cluster munitions (31 ARC-32 and 41 CB-250K cluster bombs) containing 10,832 submunitions during 2009.[22]

In 2012, Colombia confirmed that it has not retained any cluster munitions or submunitions for training or development purposes.[23]

 



[1] The ratification legislation had to be re-introduced by Senator Juan Lozano Ramirez on 10 April 2012 after draft ratification legislation introduced in March 2010 passed the Senate but was delayed in the House of Representatives to the point that it expired.

[2] Draft ratification legislation was first introduced in the Colombian Senate on 25 March 2010 as Bill 234/10 and passed its second debate on 19 October 2010. It was then introduced to the House of Representatives as 176/10, but was archived before the first debate took place and because the time period necessary to debate and approve the legislation had expired, the legislative approval process had to be stated again. Statement of Colombia, Convention on Cluster Munitions Second Meeting of States Parties, Beirut, 14 September 2011, www.clusterconvention.org/files/2011/09/statement_colombia_final.pdf.

[3] For example, representatives of the Colombian Campaign to Ban Landmines (Campaña Colombiana contra Minas, CCCM) accepted an invitation to present their views on the draft legislation to a congressional committee on 3 October 2012. Letter from Pilar Rodriguez Arias, Secretary-General, Second Committee of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade, Defense and National Security (Comision Segunda de Relaciones Exteriores, Comercio Exterior, Defensa y Seguridad Nacional), 25 September 2012.

[4] See for example, letter from Sonia Matilde Eljach Polo, Director of Multilateral Affairs, Ministry of External Relations, 19 April 2012; and statement of Colombia, Convention on Cluster Munitions Third Meeting of States Parties, Oslo, 11 September 2012, www.clusterconvention.org/files/2012/09/INTERVENCION-DE-COLOMBIA.pdf.

[5] For detail on Colombia’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), pp. 58–59.

[6] “The situation in the Syrian Arab Republic,” UNGA Resolution A/67/L.63, 15 May 2013, www.un.org/News/Press/docs//2013/ga11372.doc.htm.

[7] CMC report, “1st August CMC Global Day of Action: Campaign Actions,” 2012.

[8] Email from Camilo Serna Villegas, Operations Coordinator, CCCM, 11 August 2010.

[9] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Nohra M. Quintero C., Coordinator, Internal Working Group on Disarmament and International Security, 13 May 2011.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Response to Monitor questionnaire by the Ministry of External Relations, 26 March 2010.

[12] “Exports of Cluster Bombs Authorized in the Years 1991–2001,” official document by the General Directorate of National Mobilization (Dirección General de Movilización Nacional), Ministry of National Defense document provided together with letter from Brig. Gen. Roberto Ziegele Kerber, Director-General of National Mobilizaton, Ministry of National Defense, 18 May 2012.

[13] Carlos Osorio, “Colombia destroys its last cluster bombs” (“Colombia destruye sus últimas bombas de tipo racimo”), Agence France-Presse, 7 May 2009. In 2010, the Ministry of National Defense said that the Colombian Air Force last used cluster munitions on 10 October 2006 “to destroy clandestine airstrips belonging to organizations dedicated to drug trafficking in remote areas of the country where the risk to civilians was minimal.” Ministry of National Defense presentation on cluster munitions, Slide 11, Bogotá, December 2010.

[14] Letter from Sonia Matilde Eljach Polo, Ministry of External Relations, 19 April 2012.

[15] The case was described in the draft ratification bill contained in the letter from Representative Iván Cepeda Castro to Albeiro Vanegas Osorio, Chairperson, Second Committee of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade, Defense and National Security, House of Representatives, April 2011. See also T. Christian Miller, “A Colombian Town Caught in a Cross-Fire,” Los Angeles Times, 17 March 2002, www.articles.latimes.com/2002/mar/17/news/mn-33272.

[16] Organization of American States Inter-American Commission on Human Rights document, “Masacre de Santo Domingo, Colombia, Caso 12.416,” 22 April 2011.

[17] Letter from Sonia Matilde Eljach Polo, Ministry of External Relations, 19 April 2012.

[18] Sentence C-259 of 2012, Section B2 “The launch of a ANM1A2 device on Santo Domingo,” Inter-American Human Rights Court, “Caso Masacre de Santo Domingo vs. Colombia,” Resumen Oficial Emitido por la Court Interamericana Sentencia de 30 Noviembre de 2012, www.corteidh.or.cr/docs/casos/articulos/seriec_259_esp.pdf.

[19] “Por tanto, la Corte concluye, tomando en consideración las conclusions de la sentencia del Juzgado 12 Penal, confirmada por el Tribunal Superior en su sentencia de 15 de junio de 2011, que el dispositivo AN-M1A2 lanzado a las 10:02:09 de la mañana del día 13 de diciembre de 1998 cayó efectivamente en la calle principal de Santo Domingo, provocando la muerte de las 17 presuntas víctimas y las heridas de otras 27.” Sentence C-259 of 2012, Section B2 “The launch of a ANM1A2 device on Santo Domingo,” Inter-American Human Rights Court, “Caso Masacre de Santo Domingo vs. Colombia,” Resumen Oficial Emitido por la Court Interamericana Sentencia de 30 Noviembre de 2012, www.corteidh.or.cr/docs/casos/articulos/seriec_259_esp.pdf.

[20] Santo Tomas University de Aquino and Camilo Serna, “Informe sobre el desarrollo de la Convencion sobre municiones en racimo aplicada al estado Colombiano observancia y resultados” (“Report on the development of the Convention on Cluster Munitions as applied to the Colombian State: Observations and results”), 2011.

[21] For details on Colombia’s stockpile destruction see ICBL, Cluster Munition Monitor 2010 (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, October 2010), pp. 135–136.

[22] Letter from Sonia Matilde Eljach Polo, Ministry of External Relations, 19 April 2012; and response to Monitor questionnaire by the Ministry of External Relations, 26 March 2010. The CB-250K bombs were produced by Chile and each contains 240 submunitions. The ARC-32 bomb is apparently a 350kg weapon containing 32 anti-runway submunitions produced by Israel.

[23] Letter from Sonia Matilde Eljach Polo, Ministry of External Relations, 19 April 2012; and statement of Colombia, Convention on Cluster Munitions Third Meeting of States Parties, Oslo, 13 September 2012, www.clusterconvention.org/files/2012/09/Stockpile-destruction-Colombia.pdf.