Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 05 September 2023

Summary: Non-signatory Yemen has expressed support for the Convention on Cluster Munitions, but has not taken any steps to join it. Yemen has participated in several meetings of the convention, most recently the Tenth Meeting of States Parties in Geneva in August–September 2022. Yemen voted in favor of an important United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolution promoting the convention in December 2022.

Yemen is not known to have produced or exported cluster munitions, but it has acquired them and may still possess stocks. Yemeni forces apparently used cluster munitions in 2009, while a Saudi Arabia-led coalition of states used them in Yemen in 2015–2017 during a joint military operation against Ansar Allah (Houthi) forces.  


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

Yemen has expressed interest in the convention, but has not taken any steps to join.[1]

Yemen participated in two meetings of the Oslo Process that created the convention—in Lima in May 2007 and Belgrade in October 2007—and has expressed its support for work to prohibit cluster munitions.[2] Yemen did not attend the final negotiations of the convention in Dublin in May 2008, or the Oslo Signing Conference in December 2008.[3]

Yemen has participated as an observer at the convention’s meetings, most recently the Tenth Meeting of States Parties in Geneva in August–September 2022.[4] Yemen also attended a regional workshop on the convention held in Baghdad, Iraq in March 2023.[5]

In December 2022, Yemen voted in favor of an important UNGA resolution urging 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 2017.[7]

Yemen has also voted in favor of UNGA resolutions expressing outrage at the use of cluster munitions in Syria.[8]

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

Production, transfer, and stockpiling

Yemen is not known to have produced or exported cluster munitions.

Yemen acquired cluster munitions in the past and may still possess stocks. Jane’s Information Group reported in 2004 that KMGU dispensers that deploy submunitions were in service with the Yemeni Air Force.[9] Moldova exported 13 220mm Uragan multi-barrel rocket launch systems to Yemen in 1994. Yemen also possesses Grad 122mm surface-to-surface rocket launchers, but it is not known if the ammunition for these weapons includes versions with submunition payloads.[10]


There is no evidence to indicate that Yemen has used cluster munitions in recent years. Yemen’s Soviet Union-supplied aircraft are capable of delivering Soviet-made RBK cluster bombs; a type of cluster munition that operators have cleared and destroyed from Saada and other governorates.[11]

Previous use by others

A Saudi Arabia-led military coalition operating in Yemen against Ansar Allah (also known as the Houthi armed group) forces, used air-delivered and ground-launched cluster munitions in 2015–2017.[12] The Monitor has found no compelling evidence that the Saudi Arabia-led coalition has used cluster munitions in Yemen since then, including in 2022 and the first half of 2023.

During 2015–2017, the Saudi Arabia-led coalition in Yemen conducted at least 23 cluster munition attacks, using seven types of air-delivered and ground-launched cluster munitions, which were manufactured and exported by three countries.

Cluster munition attacks in Yemen (April 2015 to February 2017)[13]

Type of cluster munition

Country of origin

Stocks possessed by

Location and date of attack


CBU-105 Sensor Fuzed Weapon, each deploying 10 BLU-108 canisters that disperse four submunitions called “skeet” by the manufacturer Textron


Saudi Arabia,


Al-Shaaf, Saada, 17 April 2015

Al-Amar, Saada, 27 April 2015

Harf Sofian, Amran, 29 June 2015

Sanhan, Sanaa, 1 November 2015

Al-Hayma, Hodaida, 12 December 2015

Amran, Sanaa, 15 February 2016

Al-Hayma, Hodaida, 5 October 2016

CBU-87 bomb, each containing 202 BLU-97 submunitions


Saudi Arabia

Al-Nushoor, Saada, 23 May 2015

Al-Maqash, Saada, 23 May 2015

CBU-58 bomb, each containing 650 BLU-63 submunitions


Morocco, Saudi Arabia

Sanaa city, 6 January 2016

BL755 cluster bomb, each containing 147 No. 2 Mk 1 submunitions


Saudi Arabia

Al-Khadhra, Hajja, 6 January 2016


ASTROS II rocket, each containing up to 65 submunitions


Bahrain, Qatar,

Saudi Arabia

Ahma, Saada, 25 October 2015

Saada city, 6 December 2016

Saada city, 15 February 2017

Qahza, Saada, 22 February 2017

M26 rocket, each containing 644 M77 DPICM submunitions


Bahrain, Egypt, UAE

Bani Kaladah, Hajja, April/May 2015

Al-Hazan, Hajja, May/June 2015

Malus, Hajja, 7 June 2015

Dughayj, Hajja, June/July 2015

Al-Qufl, Hajja, 14/15 July 2015

Haradh, Hajja, 25 July 2015

Al-Fajj, Hajja, 25 July 2015

“ZP-39” DPICM submunition (unknown delivery system)



Baqim, Saada, 29 April 2015

Note: DPICM=dual-purpose improved conventional munition; UAE=United Arab Emirates; UK=United Kingdom; US=United States.


The Saudi Arabia-led coalition used CBU-105 Sensor Fuzed Weapons in several attacks in 2015 and 2016.[14] Saudi Arabia admitted that the coalition had used the CBU-105 once, in April 2015, but claimed that they were not prohibited weapons.[15] The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has denied using the CBU-105 in Yemen.[16]

The United States (US) suspended its cluster munition transfers to Saudi Arabia in May 2016, after reports of civilian harm in Yemen.[17] CBU-105 manufacturer Textron Systems announced in August 2016 that it was stopping its production of the weapons.[18] The move has effectively ended US production of cluster munitions, as Textron Systems was the last US company to produce them.

The Saudi Arabia-led coalition also used BL755 cluster munitions in Yemen, which marked the first recorded use of United Kingdom (UK)-made cluster munitions since the Convention on Cluster Munitions—to which the UK is a State Party—took effect in 2010.[19] Saudi Arabia committed to stop using BL755 cluster munitions in December 2016.[20]

In September 2016, States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions issued a joint declaration stating that they “condemn any use by any actor” and expressing deep concern at “any and all allegations, reports or documented evidence of the use of cluster munitions, most notably in Syria and Yemen in the past year.”[21] The European Parliament adopted a resolution in November 2017 which condemned the Saudi Arabia-led coalition airstrikes in Yemen, including the use of cluster munitions.[22]

In a December 2016 statement, the Saudi Arabia-led coalition forces did not deny the use of cluster munitions in Yemen, and argued that “international law does not ban their use.”[23]

In 2009, Saudi Arabia and the US also used cluster munitions in separate attacks in Yemen:

  • The Royal Saudi Air Force conducted airstrikes and Saudi armed forces intervened on the ground in late 2009 in Saada governorate, after fighting between the government of Yemen and Houthi rebels intensified and spilled over the border with Saudi Arabia.[24] Remnants of CBU-52 cluster bombs were filmed near Saada city.[25]
  • On 17 December 2009, US forces used at least five ship- or submarine-launched TLAM-D cruise missiles, each containing 166 BLU-97 submunitions, in an attack on al-Ma’jalah, in Yemen’s southern governorate of Abyan, which killed 55 people, including 41 civilians.[26] Neither the US nor the Yemeni government has publicly denied this cluster munition use.[27] The government of Yemen accepted the findings of a 2010 report on the attack by the Yemeni parliament, but never implemented its recommendations to clear the contaminated area or provide compensation.[28]

[1] Previously, in May 2016, a representative of Yemen said the government was considering accession following new contamination from cluster munitions used by a Saudi Arabia-led coalition since March 2015. Statement of Yemen, Mine Ban Treaty intersessional meetings, Geneva, 19 May 2016. Notes by Human Rights Watch (HRW).

[2] Statement of Yemen, Lima Conference on Cluster Munitions, Session on Victim Assistance, Lima, 23 May 2008. Notes by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF).

[3] For details on Yemen’s cluster munition policy and practice up to early 2009, see HRW and Landmine Action, Banning Cluster Munitions: Government Policy and Practice (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, May 2009), p. 262.

[4] Yemen also participated in the convention’s Meetings of States Parties in 2011, 2013–2014, and 2016, as well as the First Review Conference in 2015 and the Second Review Conference in November 2020 and September 2021.

[5]Peace Building and Development through the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” Arab Regional Workshop on the Convention on Cluster Munitions, Baghdad, 19 March 2023.

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

[7] Yemen initially abstained from voting on the annual UNGA resolution on the convention in 2015 and 2016.

[8]Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic,” UNGA Resolution 75/193, 16 December 2020. Yemen voted in favor of similar UNGA resolutions on Syria in 2013–2019.

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

[10] Republic of Moldova, United Nations (UN) Register of Conventional Arms, Submission for Calendar Year 1994, 28 April 1995; International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), The Military Balance 2011 (London: Routledge, 2011), p. 335; and Colin King, ed., Jane’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal 2008, CD-edition (Surrey: Jane’s Information Group, 2008).

[11] For example, in 2013, the Houthi administration in Saada governorate shared photographs with VICE News that showed the remnants of RBK-250-275 cluster bombs and AO-1SCh submunitions. Emails from Ben Anderson, Correspondent and Producer, VICE News, May 2014.

[12] None of the states participating in the Saudi Arabia-led coalition—Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Pakistan, Sudan, and United Arab Emirates (UAE)—are party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

[13] HRW could not determine who used ground-launched cluster munitions containing “ZP-39” submunitions in Saada in April 2015, but Saudi Arabia and Houthi forces both possess rocket launchers and tube artillery capable of delivering them.

[14] “Yemen: The Saudi-American aircraft dropped parachute bombs internationally prohibited,”, 17 April 2015 (no longer available online); and Fatik Al-Rodaini (Fatikr), “Types of bombs being parchuted [sic] by Saudi warplanes in Saada N #Yemen.” 27 April 2015, 08:50 UTC. Tweet. Another attack was recorded in a subsequent visit by HRW researchers to al-Amar village, 30km south of Saada city. HRW confirmed a cluster munition attack on 27 April 2015, and reported the presence of explosive remnants. HRW, “Yemen: Saudi-led Airstrikes Used Cluster Munitions,” 3 May 2015.

[15] Brig.-Gen. Ahmed Asiri informed CNN on 4 May 2015 that Saudi Arabia had used CBU-105 cluster bombs in Yemen against armored vehicles only, describing it as an “antivehicle weapon” and stating, “We do not use it against persons. We don’t have any operation in the cities.” Ben Brumfield and Slma Shelbayah, “Report: Saudi Arabia used U.S.-supplied cluster bombs in Yemen,” CNN, 4 May 2015. Asiri also acknowledged to The Financial Times that Saudi forces had used a US-made weapon that engages targets such as armored vehicles and is “equipped with self-destruct and self-deactivation features,” but did not call it a cluster munition and argued that it was being used to target vehicles and not people. “Saudi Arabia accused of using cluster bombs in Yemen airstrikes,” The Financial Times, 3 May 2015. Asiri told Bloomberg that the categorization of the cluster munitions as banned “isn’t correct.” Glen Carey, “Saudis deny sending troops to Yemen, reject cluster-bomb report,” Bloomberg, 3 May 2015. Asiri further informed CNN on 11 January 2016 that Saudi Arabia had used cluster munitions against concentrated rebel camps and armored vehicles, but never against civilian populations. Zachary Cohen, “Rights group: Saudi Arabia used US cluster bombs on civilians,” CNN, 29 February 2016.

[16] A diplomatic representative of the UAE told the CMC that it was not using CBU-105 Sensor Fuzed Weapons because they are banned by the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions. Interview with representative of the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in Geneva, 12 April 2016.

[17] According to an article in Foreign Policy, a senior US official said that the administration acknowledged reports that the weapons had been used “in areas in which civilians are alleged to have been present or in the vicinity” and added, “We take such concerns seriously and are seeking additional information.” John Hudson, “White House Blocks Transfer of Cluster Bombs to Saudi Arabia,” Foreign Policy, 27 May 2016; and HRW, “US: Stop Providing Cluster Munitions,” 2 June 2016. HRW collected evidence showing CBU-105s were used in or near civilian areas in apparent violation of US export laws. A woman and two children were injured in their homes by a CBU-105 attack on 12 December 2015 in the port town of Hodaida, while at least two civilians were wounded in an attack near al-Amar village in Saada governorate on 27 April 2015. HRW also found at least three instances where CBU-105s malfunctioned as their “skeet” or submunitions did not separate from the BLU-108 canister and did not explode. See, HRW, “Yemen: Cluster Munitions Harm Civilians,” 31 May 2015; and HRW, “Yemen: Saudis Using US Cluster Munitions,” 6 May 2016.

[18]Last US cluster-bomb maker to cease production,” Agence France-Presse (AFP), 1 September 2016.

[20] Rowena Mason and Ewen MacAskill, “Saudi Arabia admits it used UK-made cluster bombs in Yemen,” The Guardian, 19 December 2016.

[21]  “Final report,” Convention on Cluster Munitions Sixth Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 5–7 September 2016, CCM/MSP/2016/9, 30 September 2016. See, “Annex 1: Political Declaration,” p. 8.

[22] European Parliament, “Resolution on the situation in Yemen,” 30 November 2017. The European Parliament adopted similar resolutions in 2015–2017 condemning the coalition’s use of cluster munitions in Yemen. A similar resolution adopted in October 2018 did not include reference to use of cluster munitions by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition.

[23] “International law does not ban the use of cluster munitions. Some States have undertaken a commitment to refrain from using cluster munitions by becoming party to the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions. Neither the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia nor its Coalition partners are State Parties to the 2008 Convention, and accordingly, the Coalition’s use of cluster munitions does not violate the obligations of these States under international law.” See, “Coalition Forces supporting legitimacy in Yemen confirm that all Coalition countries aren’t members to the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” Saudi Press Agency, 19 December 2016.

[24] In July 2013, the Monitor reviewed photographs taken by clearance operators in Saada governorate showing the remnants of unexploded BLU-97 and BLU-61 submunitions as well as Dual-Purpose Improved Conventional Munition (DPICM) submunitions of an unknown origin. Interview with Abdul Raqeeb Fare, Deputy Director, Yemen Executive Mine Action Center (YEMAC), Sanaa, 7 March 2013; interview with Ali al-Kadri, Director, YEMAC, in Geneva, 28 May 2013; and email from John Dingley, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Yemen, 9 July 2013.

[25]VICE on HBO Debriefs: Crude Awakening & Enemy of My Enemy,” VICE News, 19 May 2014; Ben Anderson and Peter Salisbury, “US Cluster Bombs Keep Killing Civilians in Yemen,” VICE News, 16 May 2014; and “Saudi Arabia used cluster bombs against Houthi Shiites,” AhlulBayt News Agency, 19 May 2014.

[26] Amnesty International published a series of photographs showing the remnants of the cruise missile, including the propulsion system, a BLU-97 submunition, and the payload ejection system, the latter of which is unique to the TLAM-D cruise missile. See, “U.S. missiles killed civilians in Yemen, rights group says,” CNN, 7 June 2010.

[27] In December 2010, Wikileaks released a US Department of State cable dated 21 December 2009 that acknowledged the US had a role in the 17 December attack. The cable stated that Yemeni government officials “continue to publicly maintain that the operation was conducted entirely by its forces, acknowledging U.S. support strictly in terms of intelligence sharing. Deputy Prime Minister Rashad al-Alimi told the Ambassador on December 20 that any evidence of greater U.S. involvement such as fragments of U.S. munitions found at the sites - could be explained away as equipment purchased from the U.S.” See, “ROYG [Republic of Yemen Government] looks ahead following CT operations, but perhaps not far enough,” US Department of State cable dated 21 December 2009, released by Wikileaks on 4 December 2010.

[28] The report also called on the Yemeni authorities to compensate victims and clear cluster munition remnants from the attack site. Republic of Yemen, “Special Parliamentarian Investigating Committee Report On Security Events in the Province of Abyan,” pp. 21–22 (in English), p. 16 (in Arabic), cited in HRW, “Between a Drone and Al-Qaeda: The Civilian Cost of US Targeted Killings in Yemen,” 22 October 2013.