Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 01 August 2015

Five-Year Review: Signatory Somalia has signed an instrument of ratification but not yet deposited it as of 31 July 2015. Somalia has participated in several meetings of the convention and has condemned new use of the cluster munitions in South Sudan, Syria, and Ukraine. Somalia is not known to have used, produced, transferred, or stockpiled cluster munitions. Remnants of cluster munitions, believed to date from the 1977–1978 Ogaden War, have been found near the border with Ethiopia.


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

Somalia’s Prime Minister Omar A. A. Sharmarke signed the country’s instrument of ratification for the convention on 31 July 2015 and gave it to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to deposit. In September 2014, Somalia told States Parties that “we are in the process of ratifying” the convention and stated it hoped to complete the ratification by September 2015.[1] Previously, in April 2013, a mine action official indicated the presidency is committed to ratification, but said the delay was due to continued political instability and a full political agenda.[2] Somalia has provided regular updates on its progress towards ratification of the convention.[3]

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

Somalia has engaged in the work of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. It participated in the Fifth Meeting States Parties of the convention in San Jose, Costa Rica in September 2014 and previously attending the Second Meeting States Parties in Beirut, Lebanon in November 2010. Somalia did not attend the convention’s intersessional meetings in Geneva in June 2015. 

At the Fifth Meeting States Parties, Somalia said it has been working for universalization of the convention. It also said, “we denounce ongoing use of cluster munitions” in South Sudan and Syria, as well as reported cluster munition use in Ukraine.[5] Somalia has voted in favor of UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolutions condemning the use of cluster munitions in Syria, including Resolution 69/189 on 18 December 2014, which expressed “outrage” at the continued use.[6]

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

Use, production, transfer, and stockpiling

In September 2014, Somalia informed States Parties that it “is not a user, producer, or stockpiling state” of cluster munitions. It noted the 2013 discovery by mine action operators of cluster munition contamination near Somalia’s border with Ethiopia, which it said dated from the “border wars of 1978-1984.”[7] Somalia did not indicate who was responsible for this use.[8]

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

[2] Interview with Mohammed A. Ahmed, Director, Somalia National Mine Action Agency (SNMAA), in Geneva, 16 April 2013.

[3] In September 2011, it stated that the ratification was before the Council of Ministers of the Somalia Transitional Federal Government for discussion and approval, then the ratification would be presented to the Transitional Federal Parliament of Somalia for approval. Statement of Somalia, Convention on Cluster Munitions Second Meeting of States Parties, Beirut, 14 September 2011.

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

[6]Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic,” UNGA Resolution A/RES/69/189, 18 December 2014. Somalia voted in favor of similar resolutions on 15 May 2013 and 18 December 2013.

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

[8] In April 2013, the director of SNMAA informed the Monitor that cluster munition remnants were recently discovered near Somalia’s border with Ethiopia and the area was being surveyed to determine the extent of contamination. According to available information, dozens of failed PTAB-2.5M and some AO-1SCh explosive submunitions have been 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 have 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.