Cluster Munition Monitor 2013

Casualties and Victim Assistance

2013 Victim Assistance Banner
© Jelena Vicentic, April 2012
Hussein Ghandour, a survivor employed at the prosthetic workshop of the Lebanese Welfare Association is a peer support volunteer and advocate for survivors’ rights.


Since 1999, the Monitor has tracked the provision of victim assistance to landmine and explosive remnants of war (ERW) victims, including victims of cluster munitions. In 2010, the Monitor initiated a specific focus on victim assistance in those States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions that have cluster munition victims.[1] The convention is a landmark humanitarian disarmament agreement that is the first international treaty to make the provision of assistance to victims of the weapons a formal requirement for all States Parties.[2] It has already become a norm that influenced the understanding of victim assistance commitments in the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW), particularly Protocol V and its Plan of Action on Victim Assistance and strengthened practices related to the Mine Ban Treaty. The Convention on Cluster Munitions continues to set the highest standard in obligations for provision of assistance and reporting practices on victim assistance.

In practice, victim assistance addresses the overlapping and interconnected needs of persons with disabilities, including survivors[3] of cluster munitions, landmines, and other weapons and ERW as well as people in their communities with similar requirements for assistance. In addition, some victim assistance efforts reach family members and other people in the communities of those people who have been killed or suffered trauma, loss or other harm due to cluster munitions.

The rationale behind the Convention on Cluster Munitions is found in its preamble which affirms that States Parties are “[d]etermined to put an end for all time to the suffering and casualties caused by cluster munitions.” While all States Parties in a position to do so have a legal obligation to provide resources and otherwise support the full implementation of the convention’s victim assistance provisions, the convention places overall responsibility for the provision of victim assistance on the States Parties with cluster munition victims on their lands and in areas under their control.

Documentation of casualties from cluster munition strikes, as well as from cluster munition remnants, remains inadequate. There are no comprehensive, reliable statistics and both civilian and military casualties are under-reported. The Monitor has managed to identify a total of 17,959 cluster munition casualties in 31 countries and three other areas over all time through the end of 2012. However, a better indicator of the number of cluster munition casualties is derived from various state estimates that collectively place the total up to, or more than, 54,000 casualties globally.

Afghanistan, Iraq, Lao PDR, and Lebanon are the States Parties most affected with significant numbers of cluster munition victims in need of assistance and support. Together, they account for the majority of known cluster munition casualties. Non-signatories Cambodia and Vietnam complete the list of the six countries “considered to have the largest number of cluster munition victims, with the challenge of the responsibility to address the needs of several thousands of survivors.”[4] Despite not having yet joined the convention, both Cambodia[5] and Vietnam[6] have recognized the need for victim assistance and have provided information to Convention on Cluster Munition States Parties on their efforts in this regard. Both have reported on their implementation efforts in accordance with the convention’s specific requirements of planning, coordination and the integration of victim assistance into rights-based frameworks.

In order to make a difference in affected communities, there must be a clear understanding of the rights and needs of victims, and victim assistance responses must be coordinated, focused, and measurable. In the three years since the convention entered into force on 1 August 2010, States Parties have reported significantly more efforts to improve assistance to cluster munition victims while striving to overcome challenges. Such challenges have included inadequate infrastructure, social instability, violence, and armed conflict, and, in most states, inadequate funding and resources for the international organizations, national and international NGOs and disabled persons organizations(DPOs) that deliver most direct assistance services to victims.

Cluster Munition Casualties

Global casualties

Casualties from cluster munitions have occurred in at least 31 states and three other areas where cluster munitions have been used.[7] There may have been casualties, as yet unconfirmed, in several more states.[8] Of these states, 12 are States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions and four have signed, but not yet ratified the convention.

States and other areas with cluster munition casualties
(as of 1 July 2013)

States Parties and signatories (entry into force date)

Other states and areas

Afghanistan (1 March 2012)


Albania (1 August 2010)


Bosnia and Herzegovina (1 March 2011)


Chad (1 September 2013)


Croatia (1 August 2010)


Guinea-Bissau (1 May 2011)


Iraq (1 November 2013)


Lao PDR (1 August 2010)


Lebanon (1 May 2011)


Montenegro (1 August 2010)

South Sudan

Mozambique (1 September 2011)


Sierra Leone (1 August 2010)






Congo, Dem. Rep.







Western Sahara

Convention on Cluster Munitions States Parties are indicated in bold; other areas in italics.

Cluster munition victims are defined as all persons who have been killed or suffered physical or psychological injury, economic loss, social marginalization, or substantial impairment of the realization of their rights caused by the use of cluster munitions. This definition includes survivors (people who were injured by cluster munitions or their explosive remnants and lived), other persons directly impacted by cluster munitions, as well as their affected families and communities. Although little is known about the number of families and communities affected by cluster munitions, available information indicates that their needs are likely to be extensive. In 2012, as in past years, information available to the Monitor shows that no state has provided an estimate of the total number of its cluster munition victims, including families and other directly affected members of communities living in their jurisdiction.

There are no comprehensive, reliable statistics on cluster munition casualties—the people who were killed or injured by cluster munitions—and for decades there was inadequate reporting and massive under-reporting of both civilian and military casualties.[9] At least 17,959 cluster munition casualties have been reported globally through the end of 2012. But a better indicator of the number of cluster munition casualties is the estimated total of up to, or more than, 54,000. Some projections range as high as 58,000 to 85,000 casualties or more, but some country totals are based on extrapolations and data may be inflated.[10]

Most reported cluster munition casualties have been recorded in States Parties, particularly Afghanistan (774), Iraq (3,011), Lao PDR (7,598), and Lebanon (712).

Cluster munition casualties by Convention on Cluster Munitions status[11]

VA Piechart

The vast majority (15,598) of reported casualties were caused by cluster munition remnants—typically explosive submunitions, which failed to detonate during strikes.[12] Data on casualties due to cluster munition strikes is more difficult to collect systematically and is often not included in casualty reporting.

The other 2,361 casualties were recorded from cluster munition strikes. Casualties at the time of use are grossly under-reported; therefore the actual number of casualties, both known and estimated, is massively under-represented.

In the cases where the status was recorded,[13] civilians accounted for the majority (94%) of casualties, while humanitarian deminers (clearance personnel) accounted for 3%, and security forces (military, police, and other security personnel)

accounted for less than 3%.[14] In cases where the age was known, approximately 40% of recorded civilian casualties were children. Where the sex of the casualties was recorded, approximately 18% of civilian casualties were female.

Cluster munition casualties in 2012

In 2012, 190 cluster munition casualties were identified globally (165 casualties from cluster munition strikes and 25 from cluster munition remnants); this represented the highest one-year total since entry into force of the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

At least 165 new casualties from cluster munition strikes in Syria were identified for 2012. This number is not thought to be reliable due to a lack of active data collection able to differentiate the exact weapon used. The number of people killed and injured during strikes is likely much higher. Syria was already counted as a state with cluster munition remnants casualties due to past use of cluster munitions by Israel on its territory. No other casualties of cluster munition strikes were recorded in 2012 and the last reported casualties from cluster munition strikes were in Yemen in 2009 (55) and in Georgia in 2008 (61).

Twenty-five new casualties of cluster munition remnants were confirmed in 2012, occurring in two States Parties, Lao PDR (6) and Lebanon (5), as well as in non-signatories Cambodia (1), Serbia (3), Sudan (2), Syria (1), Vietnam (6), and one other area, Nagorno-Karabakh (1). Cluster munition remnants remained a grave hazard to clearance personnel and deminers in 2012. Three casualties were recorded among clearance staff in two separate incidents at the same location near a popular ski resort in Serbia. One deminer was killed while destroying submunitions in southern Lebanon.

Annual data on cluster munition casualties remains inadequate and/or irregular in almost all contaminated countries, including States Parties. The figures available are not considered by any means complete, and are not necessarily indicative of trends. It is clear that the all-time number of cluster munition victims continues to increase each year, but drawing any other conclusions remains challenging. It is most likely that there were significantly more casualties from cluster munition remnants among the other hundreds of casualties from ERW in the countries that did not or were unable to separate cluster munitions in their data,; it is also likely that there were cluster munition remnants casualties that went completely unrecorded.

For example, in 2012 some areas of Afghanistan were not reachable or inadequately covered by data collecting teams due to funding cuts, and in most of Iraq there was still no effective data collection mechanism. Media reporting usually failed to distinguish between the various types of explosive devices causing casualties. In Lao PDR, the country most affected by cluster munitions, data for 80% of the annual casualties recorded continued to lack information on the types of explosive devices. Only one of Vietnam’s 58 provinces had some form of systematic data collection for casualties. In Western Sahara, the type of explosive was not recorded for approximately75% of casualties identified in 2012, but it was known that a young boy was injured by a cluster munition in early 2013.

Victim Assistance

The Convention on Cluster Munitions requires that States Parties with cluster munition victims implement the following victim assistance activities:

  • Collect relevant data and assess the needs of cluster munition victims;
  • Coordinate victim assistance programs;
  • Develop a national plan, budget, and time frame for implementation;
  • Report on progress;
  • Actively involve cluster munition victims;
  • Provide adequate assistance;
  • Implement national legislation according to the principles of international law; and
  • Provide assistance that is gender- and age-sensitive as well as non-discriminatory.

The Vientiane Action Plan provides a guide for prioritizing implementation of victim assistance in all its key aspects.[15]

At meetings of the Convention on Cluster Munitions in 2012 and the first half of 2013, the victim assistance co-coordinators—Austria (and then later in 2013, Afghanistan) and Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH)—continued to focus attention on steps necessary to implement the Vientiane Action Plan issued by the First Meeting of States Parties in November 2010. Few states, however, reported directly on progress in terms of the specific Vientiane Action Plan objectives at these meetings. Significantly, neither Afghanistan nor BiH, which had volunteered to serve as leaders of the Victim Assistance Committee, reported during the 2013 intersessional meeting about their annual progress or time-bound accomplishments.

There was no significant progress in international meetings on the question of how to identify and respond to the needs of families and communities affected by cluster munitions. The focus remained on approaches to address the needs of survivors with disabilities.

At the Convention on Cluster Munitions intersessional meetings in April 2013, as in 2012, states discussed how to improve integration of the implementation of victim assistance provisions of the Convention on Cluster Munitions into other existing national coordination mechanisms, most specifically those of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). However, progress in including humanitarian victim assistance concerns into the CRPD process and broader disability frameworks was slow, at best, as evidenced by the lack of integrated coordination and the absence of necessary legislative changes made by most of the affected states. At the Sixth Conference of States Parties to the CRPD in 2013, Norway noted the importance of including cluster munition victims in the work of that convention, and was the only state to mention cluster munition victims or victim assistance.[16]

Assessing needs

States Parties must make “every effort to collect reliable relevant data” and assess the needs of cluster munition victims. According to the Vientiane Action Plan, within one year of the convention’s entry into force for each State Party, all necessary data should have been collected and disaggregated by sex and age, and the needs and priorities of cluster munition victims should have been assessed.[17]

States Parties have taken steps to improve casualty data collection and/or needs assessments. Since entry into force of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, most have attempted to compile the information necessary to assist cluster munition victims, yet all failed to do so within the one year target proposed by the Vientiane Action Plan except Albania, which already had the information in place. For the most part, efforts were ongoing in the most affected States Parties:

  • Afghanistan: No national survey or needs assessment was conducted but work to develop an agreement to include casualty reporting in the healthcare information system was underway;
  • Iraq: As of March 2013, the Iraqi Directorate for Mine Action had completed a needs assessment of “mine and ERW victims” in three of 15 provinces, although the data that was publicly available did not distinguish cluster munition victims from those of other types of victim-activated explosives. In addition, Iraq lacked an ongoing mechanism to collect and analyze information on the needs of mine/ERW survivors including cluster munition victims;
  • Lao PDR: Information from the Survivor Tracking System, an ongoing system for collecting data on survivors’ needs, was not yet being shared with service providers pending the entry of survey forms into a database in 2013;
  • Lebanon: A national victim assistance survey was planned and donor support acquired for 2013;
  • Mozambique: The national survivor network, Rede para Assistência às Vítimas de Minas (RAVIM), and Handicap International (HI) initiated a representative needs assessment of survivors in two provinces in 2012, working with national and local authorities.


The convention requires that States Parties with cluster munition casualties designate a focal point within the government to take responsibility for ensuring that victim assistance efforts are coordinated and that work is implemented. According to the Vientiane Action Plan, the focal point should be appointed within six months after becoming a State Party and the focal point should have the necessary authority and expertise to carry out its task, as well as adequate resources.[18]

Within one year, States Parties should integrate the implementation of victim assistance into existing coordination mechanisms, such as systems created under the CRPD or other relevant instruments, or establish a coordination mechanism if none existed.

All States Parties with known cluster munition victims with the exception of Sierra Leone have designated one or more focal points for Convention on Cluster Munition victim assistance activities.

Afghanistan, Albania, BiH, Chad, Lao PDR, and Lebanon have victim assistance coordination structures in place that met regularly and/or effectively coordinated assistance, often in response to a particular issue or need. The coordinating body in Croatia did not hold any meetings or have any other activities in 2012 due to the post-election political situation. There were improvements in victim assistance coordination in Iraqi Kurdistan with the merger of the two regional mine action centers into one; organization of activities in the rest of Iraq was sporadic and solely focused on the victims’ needs assessment.

In Mozambique, there was no active victim assistance coordination, but the mine action center coordinated with the National Disability Council to ensure the inclusion of survivors in disability planning. In Montenegro, where victim assistance was integrated into disability coordination, the Council for Protection of Persons with Disabilities was established in May of 2012 but was then annulled in April 2013.[19]

All four signatory states with cluster munition victims had a designated victim assistance focal point in 2012, but were active in just three of them: Angola, Colombia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The victim assistance coordination system was fully integrated into the coordinating mechanism for disability issues in two of the nine relevant States Parties (Afghanistan and Montenegro) that are also party to the CRPD [20]. This system waspartially integrated in two other States Parties to both conventions (Albania and Mozambique). Albania also expressly reported planning the complete integration of victim assistance coordination into CRPD coordination mechanisms. In Iraq, the establishment of the National Disability Commission, which was to include representatives from the two mine action centers, was pending.

Plans and strategies

The Vientiane Action Plan reiterates the Convention on Cluster Munitions obligation to adapt or develop a comprehensive national plan of action with time frames and budget to carry out victim assistance activities. However, no specific time limit was set for this to be achieved. Again, the convention calls for such plans to be incorporated within existing development and human rights frameworks, as many states have done.

National plans

State Party





The Afghanistan National Disability Action Plan (2008–2011) expired without having been monitored; it was to be revised in 2013.


National Victim Assistance Plan (2012–2015)

Aligned with the Mine Ban Treaty Cartagena Action Plan and linked to the national disability strategy.


Victim Assistance Sub-Strategy (2009–2019)

With no measurable goals and objectives, the plan needs to be reviewed and to include clearly defined responsibilities.


National Plan of Action on Victim Assistance (2012–2014)

Adopted in 2012, implementation was delayed.


Croatian Action Plan to Help Victims Of Mines and Unexploded Ordnance (2010–2014)

No monitoring of the plan’s implementation in 2012 due to a lack of coordination meetings.


National Victim Assistance Strategy

Details of plan, including the dates covered and whether or not it has a budget or monitoring plan, are unknown.



Has national action points instead of a victim assistance plan.



A victim assistance plan was under development since 2008; a completely new draft was made in 2012.


Victim Assistance Strategy of the Lebanon Mine Action National Strategy (2011–2020)

The Victim Assistance Strategy includes a budget for victim assistance activities, however funding commitments were not yet made; the strategy was also under revision.


Strategy for the Integration of Persons with Disabilities in Montenegro (2008–2016)

Implementation of the strategy was poor.


National Disability Plan (2012–2019)

Includes a section on specific assistance for mine/ERW survivors and a budget and monitoring plan; funding sources not identified.

Sierra Leone


Strategic plans for the National Council of Persons with Disabilities and for the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children Affairs (2013–2017) under development in 2013.

Victim assistance plans and relevant disability plans and strategies were under development or required revision in the following states: Afghanistan, BiH, Iraq, Lebanon, and Lao PDR.

All victim assistance plans lacked dedicated funding, although plans for BiH, Croatia, Lao PDR, Lebanon, and Mozambique included budgets or estimated costs.

Among signatories, Angola was developing the Comprehensive National Victim Assistance Action Plan (2013–2017) throughout 2012. In August 2012, Colombia approved a plan for the implementation of a reparation law for conflict victims. The DRC included victim assistance in a new National Strategic Mine Action Plan (2012–2016). Uganda’s Comprehensive Plan of Action on Victim Assistance (2010–2014) remained in effect but little progress was seen in its implementation in 2012.

Reporting on progress

Under Article 7 of the convention, States Parties are required to submit reports on the status and progress of implementation of all victim assistance obligations. All States Parties with cluster munition victims that submitted their Article 7 report for 2012 included information on victim assistance in Form H; most provided detailed information, or new factual reporting, including updates of contact information for focal points.

Convention on Cluster Munitions Form H reporting on victim assistance

State Party

Submitted/Date due



Submitted for 2012

Included detailed information


Submitted for 2012

Included detailed information


Not submitted for 2012

(Was due 30 April 2013)


28 February 2014

Not yet due


Submitted for 2012

Included basic information


Not submitted

(Initial report was due 28 October 2011)


30 April 2014

Not yet due


Submitted for 2012

Included detailed information


Submitted for 2012

Included detailed information


Submitted for 2012

Included new information


Submitted for 2012

Included detailed information

Sierra Leone

Not submitted for 2012

(Was due 30 April 2013)

The CRPD reporting and monitoring process, a potentially useful source of information on programs that can support cluster munition survivors, was proving slower and less effective, with low compliance rates, for the same States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions which have Article 5 reporting obligations. Among States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions with cluster munition victims, two—BiH and Croatia—have submitted reports on their implementation of the CRPD as required by Article 35 of that convention. Neither included a specific reference to cluster munition victims or victim assistance obligations under the Convention on Cluster Munitions, although both included short references to landmine victims.

Both Lao PDR and Montenegro had initial CRPD reports due in 2011, but neither had submitted their initial reports by 1 July 2013.

Role of survivors

Cluster munition victims were key in the development and adoption of the Convention on Cluster Munitions and the convention calls on States Parties to “closely consult with and actively involve cluster munition victims and their representative organisations” to fulfill victim assistance obligations. The Vientiane Action Plan states that States Parties must actively involve cluster munitions victims and their representative organizations in the work of the convention, placing responsibility on all States Parties, and not just those with cluster munition victims, for promoting the participation of cluster munition victims.

All States Parties with victim assistance coordination structures in place in 2012, except Guinea-Bissau and Montenegro, involved survivors or their representative organizations in victim assistance or disability coordination mechanisms. However, overall closer consultation and more active engagement of survivors were needed. Both coordination and survivor participation were limited in Chad and Iraq. As reported above, no coordination activities occurred in Croatia in 2012.

Among signatories, only in DRC did survivors participate actively in regular coordination meetings. In 13 of the 16 States Parties and signatories with known cluster munition victims, survivors were involved in victim assistance activities, including in providing ongoing services such as prosthetics, or delivering peer-to-peer support.[21]

As highlighted by the Vientiane Action Plan, survivors and cluster munition victims should be considered as experts in victim assistance and included on government delegations to international meetings and in all activities related to the convention. As in the past reporting period, BiH was the only State Party known to have included a survivor as a member of its delegation to an international meeting of the convention in 2012 and the first half of 2013. By contrast, many cluster munition victims have participated in international meetings as part of the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) delegation.

Providing adequate assistance: progress in 2012 and action required

States and other areas with cluster munition victims continue to face significant challenges in providing holistic and accessible care to affected individuals, families, and communities. Under the Vientiane Action Plan, each State Party with cluster munition victims should take immediate action to increase availability and accessibility of services, particularly in remote and rural areas where they are most often absent. In 2012, these States Parties continued to provide victim assistance services despite their general reliance on international funding and the poor global economic outlook. Following are some of the key advances to improve the availability, accessibility, and sustainability of victim assistance in 2012, as well as actions required for further improvement.


  • Croatia: The availability of emergency medicine improved with a revised contractual system in place for service providers. Psychological support services increased with a new facility opened and operating;
  • Guinea-Bissau: The first full year of operations of the main physical rehabilitation center resulted in more prosthetics services being provided;
  • Lao PDR: NGO-supported healthcare services and wheelchair production increased as well as incremental expansion of a prosthetics outreach program and of peer support;
  • Montenegro: The national health insurance system explicitly mandated free access to medical care and physical rehabilitation services for survivors.

Summary points for action:

  • Afghanistan: Availability of physical rehabilitation needed to be expanded to provinces lacking prosthetics services;
  • Albania: Sustainable funding for the prosthetics center in the cluster munition-affected region was needed and the extensive knowledge on creating small scale affordable prosthetics services needed to be used to assist amputees throughout the country in accordance with the convention principle of non-discrimination;
  • Chad: There was an acute need for improved facilities and professional capacity in the rehabilitation sector in order to overcome deficiencies in the availability of prosthetic devices;
  • Guinea-Bissau: Increased national and international resources were needed to address the little progress in improving services over the past decade due to lack of funds and government support;
  • Iraq: There was a lack of awareness about disability and survivors’ rights and needs among medical practitioners and rehabilitation staff to improve referral services.


  • Afghanistan: Physical accessibility to buildings increased with the activities of NGOs and due to better understanding of the needs through a national survey completed in 2012 by the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission;
  • Iraq: Incremental progress to make public buildings accessible for persons with disabilities was reported throughout the country;
  • Mozambique: Modest advances in physical accessibility were made in the capital Maputo.

Summary points for action:

  • BiH: Planning to address the removal of physical barriers was required because a lack of physical accessibility remained a major problem and was not included among the priorities for addressing the challenges faced by persons with disabilities;
  • Guinea-Bissau: There was a need for legislation on accessibility and also to begin efforts to ensure access to public spaces;
  • Lao PDR: Intensive efforts were required to improve access to services in remote and rural areas. Resources for infrastructure were needed to hasten the retrofitting of most buildings to make them physically accessible for persons with disabilities.
  • Lebanon: Increased allocation of resources within the national budget was needed to provide persons with disabilities access to adequate public transport and other facilities;
  • Mozambique: Accessible buses and more public transportation in general were needed to overcome overcrowding and a lack of suitable vehicles that prevented survivors from using the benefit of free public transportation for persons with disabilities.


  • Afghanistan: Some initial steps were taken to make rehabilitation services more sustainable by linking the list of needs to the health ministry priority system and to the national development budget, and by efforts by the ICRC to continually build national staff capacity;
  • Albania: A five-year collaborative project to develop the national rehabilitation system—concluded in 2012—established a sustainable program of physiotherapy training;
  • Iraq: The Ministry of Health progressively assumed more financial and management responsibilities in ICRC-supported rehabilitation centers;
  • Lao PDR: Continued ICRC Special Fund for the Disabled support increased the development of local capacity within the national rehabilitation service.

Summary points for action:

  • Lebanon: The physical rehabilitation sector needed to address its dependence on past funding sources because reduced international funding froze many victim assistance operations and activities;
  • Mozambique: Increased resources dedicated to physical rehabilitation services were needed because a lack of raw materials for prosthetics in 2012 stalled production and left survivors without services;
  • Sierra Leone: For many victims of conflict—including amputees—there was a need to increase the reliability of, and access to, existing physical and psychosocial rehabilitation for persons with disabilities.

The victim assistance thematic research for Convention on Cluster Munitions signatories and non-signatories on the provision of adequate assistance was ongoing and will be available in profiles and summaries in the Landmine Monitor Report 2013.

National and international laws

States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions are legally bound to provide adequate assistance to cluster munition victims in accordance with applicable international humanitarian and human rights law. Although the Convention on Cluster Munition has no definition or measure of what “adequate” assistance entails, the applicable international law offers more detail, including requirements such as the “highest attainable standard of healthcare.”

Applicable international law includes the CRPD, the Mine Ban Treaty, and CCW Protocol V. Other instruments with relevant provisions that should be used to support the implementation of the victim assistance obligations of the Convention on Cluster Munitions include the the Geneva Conventions, the 1951 Refugee Convention, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

In addition to international law, the Convention on Cluster Munitions’ requirement for national implementation legislation to cover its positive obligations means States Parties’ laws should ensure “the full realisation of the rights of all cluster munition victims,” as called for under Article 5. Under the Vientiane Action Plan, within one year of entry into force, States Parties are supposed to review their national laws and policies to ensure that they are consistent with their victim assistance obligations under the convention. States Parties should then revise inconsistent legislation by 2015. Despite this, most States Parties have significant tasks ahead in order to fulfill this objective. Below are summaries of some of the gaps in legislation and areas that merit improvement among States Parties:

  • Afghanistan: Legislation discriminates against persons with disabilities; special treatment is also given to some war victims;
  • Albania: Differences in legal status of persons with disabilities exist, as a result most mine/ERW survivors are ineligible for state benefits available to some other groups of persons with disabilities;
  • BiH: Entitlement to benefits for persons with disabilities is not based on needs but on military status, with the result that some persons with disabilities do not receive the same rights or adequate financial benefits;
  • Chad: Legislation protecting the rights of persons with disabilities adopted in 2007 remains inoperative;
  • Croatia: Criteria for entitlements are not equally applied and legislation regulating specific rights of persons with disabilities is fragmented;
  • Iraq: Central and southern Iraq has no legislation prohibiting discrimination against persons with disabilities and a law to establish a National Disability Commission, introduced in the Iraqi parliament in February of 2012, remained pending in June 2013;
  • Lao PDR: Adoption of relevant draft disability legislation has been on hold since 2008;
  • Lebanon: The law on the rights of persons with disabilities has yet to be comprehensively put into practice;
  • Mozambique: Ratified the CRPD in January 2012 but lacked funding to implement relevant legislation throughout the year;
  • Montenegro: Adopted a new disability law in 2011 that clarified which discriminatory actions were illegal, but little progress was reported in its implementation in 2012.

Other legal developments in 2012 included court cases upholding the right to remedy and reparations for cluster munition victims. In November, the Montenegrin court system awarded monetary compensation for pain and suffering to the family members of a boy who was killed by a cluster submunition in 1999.[22] Also in November, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights found that Colombia—now a signatory to the Convention on Cluster Munitions—had violated the right to life of 44 civilians as a result of cluster munition use during a bombing strike in 1998. The court ordered Colombia to provide comprehensive reparations to the victims.[23]


According to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, States Parties cannot discriminate against or among cluster munition victims, or between cluster munition victims and those who have suffered from other causes. For most countries where discrimination was reported, it was due to preferential treatment for veterans (see National and international laws section above) or discrimination against particular gender, age, or regional groups, rather than differences in treatment based on the cause of disability or the type of weapon that caused injury. For example, disabled war veterans were often given a privileged status above that of civilian war survivors and other persons with disabilities.

No discrimination in favor of cluster munition victims by States Parties with Article 5 obligations was identified in 2012. Concerns about positive discrimination in the allocation of services to cluster munition victims were nonetheless repeatedly raised by donor states, possibly to signal plans to reduce targeted humanitarian victim assistance funding.

Age- and gender-sensitive assistance

States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions commit to adequately providing age- and gender-sensitive assistance to cluster munition victims.[24] Yet for most States Parties and signatories, little information was available about the availability of such assistance. Few activities were reported that were designed to increase services appropriate to the needs of women, men, girls, and boys. Some of the reported activities are described below.

The school enrollment of children in Afghanistan with disabilities, including those caused by cluster munitions, continued to increase through a Ministry of Education program for inclusive education involving training for teachers, as well as children with disabilities and their parents. A national landmine survivors’ NGO in Afghanistan ran education centers providing inclusive education, literacy, and vocational training opportunities to children and adults with and without disabilities.

In Albania, even as other victim assistance activities declined due to funding constraints, the education and social inclusion of child survivors remained an ongoing focus of the national victim assistance program and a national NGO.

In Croatia, a specialized facility for psychological support and social reintegration for survivors and their families, including children and other people with trauma, became fully operational; the national victim assistance NGO continued to provide psychological support groups for children as well as adults.

Teachers in Mozambique received training in 2012 to increase the availability of inclusive education, but educational opportunities for children with disabilities were seen to be poor and there were no other age-appropriate services available for child survivors.


[1] Reporting on casualties and victims assistance in this report is for calendar year 2012, unless otherwise indicated.

[2] See Article 5 of the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

[3] Cluster munition victims include survivors (people who were injured by cluster munitions or their explosive remnants and lived), other persons directly impacted by cluster munitions, as well as their affected families and communities. As a result of their injuries, most cluster munition survivors are also persons with disabilities. The term “cluster munition casualties” is used to refer both to people killed and people injured as a result of cluster munition use or cluster munition remnants.

[4] “Draft Oslo Progress Report,” CCM/MSP/2012/WP.1, undated, pp. 7 and 9,

[5] Statement of Cambodia, Convention on Cluster Munitions Third Meeting of States Parties, Oslo, 12 September 2012,

[6] Statement of Vietnam, Convention on Cluster Munitions Second Meeting of States Parties, Beirut, 14 September 2012, Vietnam stated that it is “among the countries most affected by cluster munitions and other explosive remnants of war.” It said “Viet Nam has signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and adopted a Law on Persons with Disabilities, which provides an important legal framework for the care for and assistance to victims of ERW.” Vietnam identified the Ministry of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs as the focal point for victim assistance and is developing a Victim Assistance Action Plan and Standard Guidelines on Victim Assistance.

[7] This relates to cluster munition casualties recorded over all time. The number of states is an increase of one from the 30 reported in 2012, with Yemen being the new addition. There was a credible report of a cluster munition strike in Yemen in December 2009 that killed 55 people, including 14 women and 21 children. Amnesty International, “Wikileaks cable corroborates evidence of US airstrikes in Yemen,” 1 December 2010, In addition, cluster munition contamination was confirmed in northwestern Yemen, apparently following use in 2009/2010. In July 2013, mine clearance operators in Yemen shared photographs with the Monitor showing cluster munition contamination in Sa’adaa governorate in northwestern Yemen near the border with Saudi Arabia. Human Rights Watch has identified the remnants as unexploded BLU-97 bomblets, BLU-61 submunitions, and DPICM submunitions of an unknown origin. The DPICM submunitions look like an M42 submunition. Interview with Abdul Raqeeb Fare, Deputy Director, Yemen Executive Mine Action Center. There is no specific data available yet on casualties resulting from this contamination. Of the 31 states, there is no definite data on numbers of casualties in Chad, Libya and Mozambique. For the other 27 states, confirmed number of casualties and/or estimated numbers of casualties are available online in the 2013 country profiles. In Guinea-Bissau, cluster munition-remnant casualties were reported among 11 casualties of explosive ordnance scattered by a munitions storage explosion. Handicap International (HI), Circle of Impact: The Fatal Footprint of Cluster Munitions on People and Communities (Brussels: HI, May 2007). Annex 2, p. 145. Two of the casualties recorded in Croatia were also caused by submunitions that had been scattered as a result of a munition storage explosion.

[8] It is possible that cluster munition casualties have occurred but gone unrecorded in other countries where cluster munitions were used, abandoned, or stored in the past, such as Azerbaijan, Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, and Zambia.

[9] In most countries, when identified, casualties from unexploded submunitions have been recorded as casualties from ERW without differentiating from other types of ERW.

[10] HI, Circle of Impact: The Fatal Footprint of Cluster Munitions on People and Communities (Brussels: HI, May 2007).

[11] According to data available to the Monitor, of the total 17,959 recorded casualties by the end of 2012, 12,655 were recorded in State Parties; 647 in signatory states; 4,260 in non-signatory states and 397 were recorded in other areas.

[12] As of April 2013, the Intersectoral Commission for Demining and Humanitarian Assistance (Comissâo nacional intersectorial de desminagem e assistência humanitária - CNIDAH) reported that the Angolan national victim survey had identified at least 354 cluster munition survivors in the province of Huambo. These figures have been included in the global total. Email from Nsimba Paxe, Victim Assistance Specialist, CNIDAH, Luanda, 3 April 2013. However, in 2012 Angola had reported identifying a far larger number of cluster munition survivors in Huambo province through the same survey (1,497 cluster munition survivors). The reason for the difference in data is not known. Statement of Angola, Mine Ban Treaty Standing Committee on Victim Assistance and Socio-economic Reintegration, Geneva, 31 May 2013. An ongoing casualty survey in Western Sahara by the Association of Saharawi Victims of Mines (ASAVIM) identified 117 cluster munition casualties. Email from Gaici Nah Bachir, Advisor, (ASAVIM), 24 July 2013.

[13] However, for 6,613 casualties (more than a third of all cluster munition casualties), the civilian status was not indicated or recorded. Globally, states have done little public reporting of military casualties from cluster munitions, even when they were likely to have been significant, such as in the 1991 Gulf War. See CMC, Cluster Munition Monitor 2011 (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, October 2011),

[14] See also HI, Circle of Impact: The Fatal Footprint of Cluster Munitions on People and Communities (Brussels: HI, May 2007).

[15] The Vientiane Action Plan includes 10 detailed and time-bound victim assistance actions specific to countries with cluster munition victims and three other actions relating to victim assistance in States Parties. The actions are related to medical care, rehabilitation and psychological support, social and economic inclusion, and other relevant services.

[16] Statement of Norway, Sixth session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, 17–19 July 2013, New York, 17 July 2013,

[17] Such data should be made available to all relevant stakeholders and contribute to national injury surveillance and other relevant data collection systems for use in program planning.

[18] The period after the convention’s entry into force for that State Party, as noted in the above table.

[19] Montenegro’s Council for Protection of People with Disabilities was repealed on 18 April 2013, less than one year after being established, based on government findings that the “further existence of The Council for the care of persons with disabilities is not justified.” Association of Youth with Disabilities Montenegro, “Public Statement on repealing of The Council for the care of persons with disabilities,” 25 April 2013,

[20] Of the 12 States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions with cluster munition victims and obligations under Article 5, nine are party to the CRPD (Afghanistan, Albania, BiH, Croatia, Iraq, Lao PDR, Montenegro, Mozambique, and Sierra Leone)and two have signed but not yet ratified (Chad and Lebanon); Guinea-Bissau has not yet joined.

[21] No survivor involvement in victim assistance activities was identified in Guinea-Bissau, Montenegro, or Sierra Leone.

[22] As stated by Judge Mirjana Vlahović, provided to the Monitor via email by Velija Murić, Attorney-at-law, Rozaje, Montenegro, 25 February 2013. Translation by Jelena Vićentić, Coordinator, Assistance, Advocacy, Access-Serbia, 11 March 2013. In April 2013, a national court in non-signatory Israel also awarded compensation to a man severely injured by a cluster munition remnant. The court found that the Israeli state had failed to adequately protect the survivor from known dangers of what was once a firing range. His award was said to include compensation for pain and suffering as well as for lost income as a result of his permanent disability. Yanir Yagna, “Court awards damages to Bedouin who lost arm to cluster bomb,” Haaretz, 7 April 2013,

[23] Inter-American Court of Human Rights, “Case: Massacre of Santo Domingo vs. Colombia Sentence of 30 November 2012,”

[24] Children require specific and more frequent assistance than adults. Women and girls often need specific services depending on their personal and cultural circumstances. Women face multiple forms of discrimination, as survivors themselves or as those who survive the loss of family members, often the husband and head of household.