Thailand

Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 05 September 2023

Summary: Non-signatory Thailand acknowledges the humanitarian concerns raised by cluster munitions, but has not taken any steps to join the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Thailand participated in the convention’s Tenth Meeting of States Parties in Geneva in August–September 2022. Thailand voted in favor of a key United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolution promoting the convention in December 2022.

Thailand is not known to have produced or exported cluster munitions, but has imported them and possesses a stockpile. The only recorded use of cluster munitions by Thailand was in 2011 during a border dispute with Cambodia.

Policy

The Kingdom of Thailand has not acceded to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Thailand has expressed interest in the convention, but has not taken any steps to accede to it.[1] Thailand’s foreign minister told the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in 2011 that the government was “seriously considering joining the Convention on Cluster Munitions.”[2] However, military officials have since said that Thailand is not in a position to accede.[3]

In October 2022, Thailand associated itself with a statement by the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) that recognized “the adverse humanitarian impact caused by the use of cluster munitions.”[4]

Thailand participated in diplomatic conferences of the Oslo Process that created the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Yet it attended the formal negotiations in Dublin in May 2008 and the Oslo Signing Conference in December 2008 only as an observer.[5]

Thailand has participated as an observer at most of the convention’s meetings, most recently the Tenth Meeting of States Parties held in Geneva in August–September 2022, where it did not make a statement.[6]

In December 2022, Thailand voted in favor of a key UNGA resolution urging states outside the Convention on Cluster Munitions to “join as soon as possible.”[7] Thailand has voted in favor of the annual UNGA resolution promoting the convention since it was first introduced in 2015.

Thailand has also voted in favor of UNGA resolutions condemning use of cluster munitions in Syria.[8]

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

Production, transfer, and stockpiling

Thailand is not known to have ever produced or exported cluster munitions.

Thailand possesses a stockpile of cluster munitions, but in December 2008 announced that it did not intend to acquire more cluster munitions.[9] A military official claimed in 2018 that Thailand no longer had cluster munitions in its operational stockpile as they were transferred to a training stockpile years previously, which he said active military units cannot access.[10]

The Monitor will continue to list Thailand as a stockpiler of cluster munitions until official confirmation is provided, for example in a voluntary Article 7 transparency report, as other states not party have done.

Thailand received 500 Rockeye and 200 CBU-71 air-dropped cluster bombs from the United States (US) between 1970 and 1995.[11] Thailand also received 2,806 cluster munitions containing 850,268 submunitions from the US, after the US War Reserve Stock in Thailand was dissolved by a 2002 agreement.[12]

Thailand possesses French-made NR-269 ERFB extended-range 155mm artillery projectiles, each containing 56 M42/M46-type dual-purpose improved conventional munition (DPICM) submunitions.[13] Based on the types of submunitions identified in Cambodia after the February 2011 artillery strikes, Thailand also possesses cluster munitions capable of delivering M85 DPICM submunitions.[14]

Several technical experts have provided advice and information on possible options for safely destroying Thailand’s stockpiled cluster munitions.[15]

Use

There has been no evidence or allegations of cluster munition use by Thailand since 2011.

Previous use

Thai military forces fired cluster munitions into Cambodia in February 2011, during fighting over a disputed part of the border at the Preah Vihear temple, according to the Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC), a government entity.[16] Thailand fired ground-delivered cluster munitions into Cambodian territory, including M42/M46 and M85-type DPICM submunitions.[17]

At first, Thailand denied using cluster munitions, but later accepted the evidence, stating that it “fully understands the concerns raised.”[18] Thailand’s use of cluster munitions in 2011 generated widespread concern and provoked a strong international response.[19]



[1] Statement of Thailand, Convention on Cluster Munitions Sixth Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 6 September 2016. Previously, in October 2015, Thailand said it was “in the process of verifying scope and meaning under the CCM [Convention on Cluster Munitions], with a view to possible accession in the future.” Statement of Thailand, UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 26 October 2015.

[2] Statement by Kasit Piromya, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand, UNSC, New York, 14 February 2011. Government officials also expressed Thailand’s intent to accede to the convention in “the near future.” Statement of Thailand, Convention on Cluster Munitions intersessional meetings, Geneva, 27 June 2011. Notes by the CMC.

[3] CMC meeting with Maj.-Gen. Thongchai Rodyoi, Director, Office of Operations, Royal Thai Army Headquarters, Bangkok, 9 July 2018.

[4] Statement of Indonesia on behalf of the NAM, UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 19 October 2022.

[5] For details on Thailand’s policy and practice regarding cluster munitions through early 2009, see Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Landmine Action, Banning Cluster Munitions: Government Policy and Practice (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, May 2009), pp. 245–246.

[6] Previously, Thailand participated in the convention’s First Review Conference in 2015, the Second Review Conference in 2020 and 2021, Meetings of States Parties in 2010–2017 and 2019, and intersessional meetings in 2011–2015.

[7]Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” UNGA Resolution 77/79, 7 December 2022.

[8]Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic,” UNGA Resolution 77/230, 15 December 2022. Thailand voted in favor of similar UNGA resolutions on Syria from 2013–2021.

[9] Interview with Cherdkiat Atthakor, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangkok, 24 February 2010; and statement of Thailand, Convention on Cluster Munitions Signing Conference, Oslo, 4 December 2008. Notes by Landmine Action.

[10] CMC meeting with Maj.-Gen. Thongchai Rodyoi, Royal Thai Army, Bangkok, 9 July 2018.

[11] Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), US Department of Defense, “Cluster Bomb Exports under FMS, FY1970–FY1995,” obtained by HRW in a Freedom of Information Act request, 28 November 1995.

[12] US Department of State, “Memorandum of Agreement between the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and THAILAND Signed at Bangkok November 26, 2002,” 26 November 2002.  The stockpile was comprised of 1,000 M483 and 432 M449A1 artillery projectiles, and 200 CBU-58, 200 Mk-20 Rockeye II, 100 CBU-52, 800 CBU-71, and 74 CBU-87 air-dropped bombs. The cluster munitions were stored at the Korat Munitions Storage Area at the time of the 2002 agreement. See, Andrew Haag, “Thailand received cluster munitions from the United States in 2002–2005,” Landmine and Cluster Munition Blog, 19 January 2016.

[13] The DPICM submunition is often called a “grenade.” A certain amount of contradictory information exists publicly about the specific type of DPICM submunition contained in the NR269 projectile. France listed it as an “M42 type” in its initial Article 7 report in January 2011. Other international ammunition reference publications list the type as M46. There is little outward visual difference between the two types: the M46 DPICM is heavier/thicker and has a smooth interior surface. A portion of the interior of the M42 DPICM body is scored for greater fragmentation.

[14] Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA), “Impact Assessment Report: Preah Vihear Province, Cambodia,” undated, but circulated 3 April 2011.

[15] Email from Lee Moroney, Programme Manager, NPA, 17 August 2010.

[17] For full analysis of the 2011 use incident, see CMC, Cluster Munition Monitor 2011 (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, October 2011), pp. 319–320. The missions were conducted by the Cambodia Campaign to Ban Landmines and Cluster Bombs (on 9 and 12 February) and NPA (1–2 April). CMC press release, “CMC condemns Thai use of cluster munitions in Cambodia,” 6 April 2011.

[18] Guy De Launey, “Thailand ‘admits cluster bombs used against Cambodia’,” BBC News, 6 April 2011; and statement of Thailand, Convention on Cluster Munitions intersessional meetings, Geneva, 27 June 2011. Notes by the CMC.

[19] For example, the Beirut Progress Report issued at the convention’s Second Meeting of States Parties stated: “Several states have reported actions reacting to the instance of use of cluster munitions by Thailand in 2011. This includes individual and joint demarches, support for fact-finding missions and condemnation of the use in public statements. The President of the Convention has also issued a statement, stating his concern over the use of cluster munitions. States and civil society have reported on how they follow up, in terms of actions to increase the understanding and knowledge of the Convention. States and civil society have had a good dialogue with Thailand.” See, Convention on Cluster Munitions Second Meeting of States Parties, “Draft Beirut Progress Report: Monitoring progress in implementing the Vientiane Action Plan from the First up to the Second Meeting of States Parties,” CCM/MSP/2011/WP.5, Beirut, 25 August 2011.