Vietnam

Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 05 September 2023

Summary: Non-signatory Vietnam acknowledges the human suffering caused by cluster munitions, but has not taken any steps to join the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Vietnam last participated in a meeting of the convention in September 2019. Vietnam abstained from voting on a key annual United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolution promoting the convention in December 2022.

Vietnam states that it has never used, produced, transferred, or stockpiled cluster munitions. The United States (US) used air-delivered cluster munitions extensively in Vietnam during the 1960s and 1970s.

Policy

The Socialist Republic of Vietnam has not acceded to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Vietnam has expressed support for the convention’s humanitarian objectives, but has not taken any steps to accede to it. Vietnam has expressed concern that it would not be able to comply with certain provisions of the convention, such as the obligation to clear areas contaminated by cluster munition remnants within 10 years.[1] It has criticized the convention for lacking a “mechanism” to ensure international support and cooperation, especially by cluster munition “users, producers and exporters” to take responsibility “for assisting affected countries.”[2]

Vietnam participated in two international conferences during the Oslo Process to develop the convention text, but attended the formal negotiations in Dublin in May 2008 and the Oslo Signing Conference in December 2008 only as an observer.[3]

Vietnam participated in a regional conference on cluster munitions held in Bali, Indonesia in 2009, and an international conference held in Santiago, Chile in 2010.

Vietnam has participated in several meetings of the convention, most recently the intersessional meetings in Geneva in May 2022.[4] Vietnam was invited to, but did not attend, the convention’s Tenth Meeting of States Parties held in Geneva in August–September 2022.

In December 2022, Vietnam abstained from voting on a key UNGA resolution that urged states outside the Convention on Cluster Munitions to “join as soon as possible.”[5] Vietnam has abstained from the vote on the annual UNGA resolution promoting the convention since it was first introduced in 2015.

Vietnam is not party to the Mine Ban Treaty. Vietnam signed the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) in 1981, but never ratified it.

Use, production, transfer, and stockpiling

Vietnam told States Parties in 2012 that, “We do not produce, store, use or encourage to [sic] use cluster munitions.”[6]

In the past, some Vietnamese officials said that the country does not stockpile cluster munitions, though others were less certain.[7] A 2010 position paper by the government of Vietnam stated that “foreign reports” show that it has never used, produced, transferred, or stockpiled cluster munitions.[8]

In 2004, Jane’s Information Group listed the Vietnam People’s Air Force as possessing KMGU submunition dispensers.[9]

The US used cluster munitions extensively in Vietnam during the 1960s and 1970s, creating a legacy of contamination.



[1] Vietnam Explanation of Vote on UNGA Draft Resolution L.49/Rev.1, “Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” New York, 4 November 2015. In 2012, Vietnam told States Parties of its “strong support for the humanitarian goal of the Convention” but said that it would “not be in a position to complete clearance under the Article 4 deadline of ten years.” Statement of Vietnam, Convention on Cluster Munitions Third Meeting of States Parties, Oslo, 11 September 2012. In 2011, Vietnam’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs said that “responsibilities should be laid with countries that had produced, used and exported cluster munitions” and expressed concern at the convention’s 10-year clearance deadline as Vietnam is “seriously affected by cluster munitions” and has “limited resources.” Statement by Le Luong Minh, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, at the Workshop on Joint Efforts in Mitigating the Consequences of Bomb and Mine Remnants of War, Hanoi, 5 December 2011.

[2] Statement of Vietnam, Convention on Cluster Munitions intersessional meetings, Geneva, 7 April 2014.

[3] For more details on Vietnam’s cluster munition policy and practice up to early 2009, see Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Landmine Action, Banning Cluster Munitions: Government Policy and Practice (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, May 2009), pp. 261–262.

[4] Vietnam has participated as an observer at all of the convention’s Meetings of States Parties except in 2014, 2018, and 2022. Vietnam attended the convention’s First Review Conference in Dubrovnik in September 2015 and the intersessional meetings in Geneva in 2011–2014. Vietnam has also participated in regional workshops on the convention, such as a virtual meeting for Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) military officials convened by the Philippines in July 2020.

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

[6] Statement of Vietnam, Convention on Cluster Munitions Third Meeting of States Parties, Oslo, 11 September 2012.

[7] During a CMC mission to Vietnam in May 2010, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official said that there were no stocks, but a Ministry of Defense official was not clear on the issue. Thomas Nash, “Report on Cluster Munition Coalition Visit to Vietnam: 10–11 May 2010,” undated.

[8] “Vietnam’s Position on Cluster Munition Convention,” position paper by the government of Vietnam, provided to the Aotearoa New Zealand Cluster Munition Coalition on 26 May 2010.

[9] Robert Hewson, ed., Jane’s Air-Launched Weapons, Issue 44 (Surrey: Jane’s Information Group, 2004), p. 848.