Eight years ago today, the Convention on Cluster Munitions entered into force, prohibiting the use and production of cluster bombs. The Convention has had a major impact on many levels, including reducing the use of cluster bombs and preventing casualties.
What is a cluster bomb? A cluster munition is a bomb containing many smaller bomblets, called submunitions. The bomb opens up in mid-air to release tens or hundreds of small bombs, which then cover an area up to the size of several football fields. Anybody within the strike area of the cluster munition, be they military or civilian, is likely to be killed or seriously injured. Moreover, many of the submunitions do not explode as intended, and they end up like landmines. They can remain a fatal threat to anyone in the area long after a conflict ends. As a result, most victims of cluster bombs are civilians -- in 2016, 98% of recorded victims were civilians.
How were they banned? The Convention was the result of years of campaigning by civil society organizations from around the world and of government level diplomacy. The focus was on the consequences of cluster bombs on civilians and the weapons´ long-term effects.
Aren’t they still used? Some countries continue to use cluster bombs and cluster munitions still cause hundreds of casualties every year. Much work is required in clearing the large areas of land in countries such as Laos, Afghanistan and Syria to prevent harm to civilians.
It works! -- Eight years on, the Convention on Cluster Munitions has proved to be extremely effective. The ban works – and shows the way for other disarmament treaties, including nuclear weapons.
Read more about PAX's work in the field of cluster munitions.