ALERT – Cluster Munition Monitor 2018: States must commit to eradicate these weapons

Posted by: on Aug 30, 2018 | No Comments

Released today, the 2018 Cluster Munition Monitor report reveals new attacks involving cluster munitions in 2017 in Syria and Yemen.

The 2018 Cluster Munition Monitor report assesses the implementation of the Oslo Convention which bans the use, production, transfer and storage of cluster munitions, for the period from January to December 2017. The report also covers 2018 (through to August) where information is available.

The conference of State Parties to the Oslo Convention, which bans the use of cluster munitions, is due to take place on 3-5 September in Geneva: HI is calling on States to enforce international law and put pressure on belligerent parties to end the use of this indiscriminate weapon. Whereas 120 States have already signed up, there is an urgent need for others to accede to the Convention, whose aim is to eliminate this barbaric weapon.

99% of cluster munition casualties were civilians

In 2017, cluster bombs continued to kill and injure civilians: the Monitor recorded 289 new cluster munition casualties in 2017 – caused either by use of these weapons or as a result of cluster munition remnants; 99% of these casualties were civilians.

Even though this figure is significantly down on 2016 (971 casualties identified), it remains a major cause for concern. On the one hand, these numbers are almost certainly underestimated and on the other, this reduction comes in the wake of several years marked by particularly heavy casualties linked to cluster munition use in Syria: 36 attacks were recorded in Syria between July 2017 and June 2018, compared with 238 attacks between August 2016 and July 2017. Despite this relative lull in warfare, 65% of the new casualties recorded in 2017 were in Syria.

Heavy casualties in Syria and Yemen

 Since the second half of 2012, cluster munitions have been repeatedly used in Syria: at least 600 cluster bomb attacks occurred between July 2012 and July 2017, resulting in 77% of the causalities recorded worldwide. Yemen suffered the second highest number of casualties from cluster bomb attacks in 2017 (26). Because up to 40% of these weapons do not explode on impact, sub-munitions remain as hazardous as anti-personnel landmines.

In 2017, casualties from unexploded cluster munition remnants were recorded in eight countries and two territories: Cambodia, Iraq, Laos, Lebanon, Serbia, Syria, Vietnam and Yemen, together with Nagorno-Karabakh and Western Sahara. A third of the accidents recorded in 2017 were in Laos (32 casualties), the country most heavily polluted by sub-munitions in the world. 62% of the casualties of cluster munition remnants are children.

An international treaty to eradicate the use of cluster munitions

Since the Convention came into force on 1st August 2010, 35 State Parties have destroyed 1.4 million cluster munition stockpiles, i.e. a total of 175 million sub-munitions. This represents 99% of all cluster munitions declared by States Parties.

In 2017, 93 square kilometres of land (twice the size of the Luxembourg capital) were cleared and 153,000 sub-munitions were made safe and destroyed. In total, 26 states and three regions remain contaminated by sub-munition remnants worldwide.

The Oslo Convention has made great strides in protecting civilians against the scourge of cluster munitions: every year, existing stockpiles are destroyed and significant areas of contaminated land are cleared, while these weapons are increasingly stigmatised. However, it is unacceptable that several hundred civilians continue to fall victim to these weapons each year. States that have not yet signed the Oslo Convention must do so urgently, to confirm its status as an undisputed international standard and eradicate these barbaric weapons once and for all.

Read the report here.