Sri Lanka

Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 04 September 2020

Ten-Year Review: Sri Lanka acceded to the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 1 March 2018. Sri Lanka has participated in the convention’s meetings and served as president of the Ninth Meeting of States Parties in September 2019. It voted in favor of a key United Nations (UN) resolution promoting the convention in December 2019.

According to Sri Lanka’s initial transparency report provided in February 2019, it has never produced cluster munitions and does not possess a stockpile.


The Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka acceded to the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 1 March 2018 and the convention entered into force for the country on 1 September 2018.

Sri Lanka stated in September 2019 that it was “exploring…internal processes” to see if “a separate legal enactment to give effect to the Convention is required” or if “adequate legal provisions already exist, to enable the implementation of all Convention related obligations.”[1] Previously, in February 2019, Sri Lanka said it was checking to determine if new legislation is needed to enforce its implementation of the convention’s provisions.[2]

Since its accession to the convention in 2018, Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Defense has initiated a program to educate Sri Lanka’s security forces to ensure they comply with the convention’s provisions at all times.[3]

Sri Lanka submitted its initial Article 7 transparency report for the convention on 26 February 2019.[4]

Sri Lanka participated in one meeting of the Oslo Process that created the Convention on Cluster Munitions, in Vienna, Austria in December 2007. It attended a regional meeting on cluster munitions in Bali, Indonesia in November 2009.

Prior to its accession Sri Lanka participated as an observer in every meeting of the convention.[5] It participated as a State Party in the convention’s Eighth Meeting of States Parties in Geneva in September 2018. Sri Lanka served as President of the Ninth Meeting of States Parties, also in Geneva, in September 2019.

Sri Lanka has participated in several regional workshops on the convention, such as one hosted in Vientiane, Lao PDR in April 2019 and one held by the Philippines in Manila on 18–19 June 2019.

In December 2019, Sri Lanka voted in favor of a UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution, which urges states outside the Convention on Cluster Munitions to “join as soon as possible.”[6] It has voted in favor of the annual UNGA resolution promoting the convention since it was first introduced in 2015.

Sri Lanka has also voted in favor of UNGA resolutions condemning the use of cluster munitions in Syria, most recently in December 2018.[7]

Sri Lanka acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty on 13 December 2017. Sri Lanka is also a party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons.

Production, transfer, and stockpiling

In February 2019, Sri Lanka reported that it has not produced cluster munitions and does not possess any stocks of cluster munitions, including for research and training purposes.[8]


In September 2018, Sri Lanka stated that it “has never used cluster munitions.”[9] Previously, Sri Lankan officials repeatedly stated that its armed forces did not possess cluster munitions and never used the weapon.[10]

Past allegations of use

Sri Lanka has emphatically denied claims that it used cluster munitions in 2008–2009 in the northern Vanni region.[11] In 2017, Sri Lanka said that with respect to allegations of cluster munition use during its military operation against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the “Sri Lanka Army, Sri Lanka Navy and Sri Lanka Air Force re-iterated their earlier stand that they have never used Cluster Munitions”[12]

In 2016, it was reported that three mine clearance operators had cleared cluster munition remnants, including unexploded submunitions, from at least six different sites in the north of the country since 2009.[13] The reports quoted an operator, who said it could not be determined who used the cluster munitions or when, but said they could have been used “any time within the last three decades.”

The Sri Lankan Air Force possesses aircraft capable of delivering Soviet-made cluster munitions, while the LTTE had light planes incapable of carrying them. The Indian Air Force possesses RBK-500 series cluster bombs and was involved in a military intervention against the LTTE in northern Sri Lanka in 1987–1990.

[1] Statement of Sri Lanka, Convention on Cluster Munitions Ninth Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 2 September 2019.

[2] Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form A, 26 February 2019.

[3] Statement on Clearance, Convention on Cluster Munitions Ninth Meeting of States Parties, 3 September 2019.

[4] The report covers an initial period and every form states ‘’nil’’ with the exception of Form A on national implementation measures. As of August 2020, Sri Lanka has not provided an annual updated report for the convention. The report was due by 30 April 2020.

[5] Sri Lanka has participated as an observer in every Meeting of States Parties of the convention since 2011. Sri Lanka also attended the First Review Conference in 2015.

[6]Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” UN General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 74/62, 12 December 2019.

[7]Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic,” UNGA Resolution 73/182, 17 December 2018. Sri Lanka abstained from the vote on a similar resolution in December 2019.

[8] Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Forms B, C, D and E, 26 February 2019.

[9] Statement of Sri Lanka, Convention on Cluster Munitions Eighth Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 3 September 2018.

[10] Statement of Sri Lanka, Convention on Cluster Munitions First Review Conference, Dubrovnik, 9 September 2015. Notes by the Monitor. See also, Monitor meeting with Amb. Dr. Palitha T.B. Kohona, and Dilup Nanyakkara, Advisor, Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the UN in New York, New York, 19 October 2010.

[11] See, Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Landmine Action, Banning Cluster Munitions: Government Policy and Practice (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, May 2009), pp. 242–243. In October 2009, Sri Lankan Army Commander Lt.-Gen. J. Jayasuriya stated, “Where the cluster munitions are concerned, I wish to categorically state that such inhumane weapons have never, and will never be used by the Sri Lankan Armed Forces.” See also, “Flow of arms to terrorists must stop,” Daily News, 28 October 2009. In early 2009, a media report alleged that Sri Lankan forces used cluster munitions against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, while attacking Pudukkudyirippu Hospital. “U.N. cites Sri Lanka cluster bomb use: The U.S., EU, Norway and Japan join in a plea to the Tamil Tiger rebels to end their failing separatist struggle and avoid more deaths,” Los Angeles Times, 4 February 2009. A UN spokesperson initially said the hospital was attacked with cluster munitions, but retracted the statement after further investigation. See, “UN accepts Sri Lanka has not used cluster bombs – website,” BBC Monitoring South Asia, 5 February 2009; and Walter Jayawardhana, “UN Spokesman Accepts Sri Lanka Never Had Cluster Bombs,” Ministry of Defence, 5 February 2009. In 2011, a UN Panel of Experts report noted the government’s denial and said that it was unable to reach a conclusion on the credibility of the allegation of use of cluster munitions by Sri Lanka. Report of the Secretary General’s Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka, 31 March 2011, p. 47.

[12] Email from Mafusa Lafir, Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the UN in Geneva, to Mary Wareham, Arms Division, HRW, 26 May 2017. In 2016, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) recommended the Sri Lankan government investigate the allegations of past cluster munition use, stating that, “the High Commissioner calls for an independent and impartial investigation to be carried out” following “recent reports on new evidence that has emerged on the use of cluster munitions towards the end of the conflict, following similar allegations in the OHCHR investigation report.” See OHCHR, “Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka,” A/HRC/32/CRP.4, 28 June 2016, p. 8.

[13] The Guardian published photographs showing clearance operators preparing to destroy the remnants of an RBK-500 AO-2.5RT cluster bomb and reported that HALO Trust had cleared 42 cluster munitions—likely submunitions—from sites near Pachchilapalli. Emmanuel Stoakes, “Sri Lanka denies cluster bombs found in war zones were government weapons,” The Guardian, 26 June 2016. See also, Emmanuel Stoakes, “Cluster bombs used in Sri Lanka's civil war, leaked photos suggest,” The Guardian, 20 June 2016.