ALERT – 2017 Cluster Munition Monitor 2017: Sharp rise in casualties

Posted by: on Aug 31, 2017 | No Comments

The 2017 Cluster Munition Monitor report, published today, reveals a sharp rise in the number of new casualties of cluster munitions, which more than doubled between 2015 and 2016.

The 2017 Cluster Munition Monitor report reviews the application of the Oslo Convention, which bans the use, production, trade, and stockpiling of cluster munitions, between January and December 2016. The report also covers the first half of 2017.

The vast majority of casualties  of cluster munition – 98 percent – are civilians.

The report reveals that the number of people killed or injured by cluster munitions more than doubled between 2015 and 2016. There were 971 casualties of these barbaric weapons in 2016 compared with 419 in 2015. Civilians account for 98 percent of submunition casualties reported around the world – almost all of them. This is very probably lower than the actual figure.

The Syrian conflict accounted for 89 percent of global submunition casualties in 2016. Cluster munitions have been in continuous use in Syria since mid-2012. A total of six States and one territory have been affected by the use of submunitions since January 2015: in addition to Syria and Yemen, the use of cluster munitions was once again reported in the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, the subject of a dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and in Somalia in 2016, and Ukraine, Sudan and Libya in early 2015. According to reliable but unconfirmed reports, cluster munitions appear to have been used in Libya and Iraq in 2016 and early 2017.

Casualties of cluster munition remnants

Whereas the vast majority of new casualties (857) were injured or killed in cluster munition attacks, there were 114 casualties of submunition remnants in 2016. Up to 40% of these weapons do not explode on impact, and submunitions become as dangerous as anti-personnel mines and make entire areas uninhabitable. Half of accidents reported in 2016 were in Laos (51 casualties), the country most heavily polluted by submunitions in the world.

Around the world, 26 States and three territories were contaminated by submunition remnants worldwide.

The Oslo Convention on Cluster Munition

119 States have now joined the Oslo Convention (of which 102 States Parties and 17 Signatory States). Two States (Benin and Madagascar) recently ratified the Convention. On 5 December 2016, during the United Nations General Assembly, 141 States – of which 32 non-Signatory States of the Oslo Convention – adopted a resolution in favour of the Convention.

Since the Convention entered into force on 1 August 2010, 28 States Parties destroyed 1.4 million stockpiled cluster munitions containing 172 million submunitions. This accounts for 97% of cluster munitions and 98% of all submunitions declared as stockpiled by States Parties. In 2016, three States Parties (Slovakia, Spain and Switzerland) destroyed 56,171 cluster munitions and 2.8 million submunitions. In 2016, 88 of land (almost twice the size of the capital of Luxembourg) was cleared and 140,000 submunitions were made safe and destroyed.

To coincide with the Meeting of States Parties to the Oslo Convention on Cluster Munitions in Geneva from 4 to 6 September, Handicap International is calling on belligerent parties to immediately end the use of submunitions.

It is also is calling on States to enforce international law and to put pressure on belligerent parties to end the use of this barbaric weapon.

States Parties must firmly and systematically condemn all new uses of these weapons. Yemen, where international condemnation led to a sharp drop in the use of cluster munitions in 2016, shows that the stigmatisation of these banned weapons does have an impact.


About cluster bombs

Cluster bombs are weapons containing several hundred mini-bombs called cluster munitions. Designed to be scattered over large areas, they inevitably fall in civilian areas. Up to 30% (or even 40%) do not explode on impact. Like anti-personnel mines, they can be triggered at the slightest contact, killing and maiming people during and after conflicts. Indiscriminately affecting civilians and civilian property and military targets, cluster munitions violate international humanitarian law.

The Convention on Cluster Munitions banning the use, production, transfer, stockpiling and sale of cluster munitions was opened for signature in December 2008. There are currently 119 State signatories to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.