What are cluster bombs?
Cluster bombs (cluster munitions) are large weapons which are deployed from the air by aircraft including fighters, bombers and helicopters. These bombs open in mid-air and release dozens or hundreds of smaller submunitions. Submunitions released by air-dropped cluster bombs are most often called "bomblets,” while those delivered from the ground are usually referred to as "grenades." First, their wide-area effect virtually guarantees civilian casualties when they are used in populated areas. Second, many of the submunitions do not explode on impact as designed, causing civilian casualties for months or years to come.
What are the problems with this weapon?
Their widespread deployment means they cannot distinguish between military targets and civilians so the humanitarian impact can be extreme when the weapon is used in or near populated areas. Many bomblets also fail to detonate on impact and become de facto landmines, killing and maiming people long after the conflict has ended. These duds are more lethal than antipersonnel mines; incidents involving submunition duds are much more likely to cause death than injury.
Who has used cluster munitions?
19 countries have used cluster munitions since WWII: Colombia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, France, Georgia, Iraq, Israel, Libya, Morocco, Nigeria, Netherlands, Russia (including former USSR), South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Thailand, United Kingdom, the United States and Yugoslavia (former Socialist Republic of). In 2012, cluster munitions were reportedly used in both Syria (by Syria) and Sudan (by Sudan). There has also been use by a small number of non-state armed groups such as Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2006.
Billions of submunitions are stockpiled by some 72 countries. A total of 34 countries are known to have produced over 210 different types of cluster munitions since the 1950s, 17 of which are suspected of still producing in 2012. At least 15 countries have exported or transferred cluster munitions to at least 60 countries since the 1950s.
39 countries and territories were affected by the presence of unexploded munitions in 2011: Afghanistan, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cambodia, Chad, Chile*, Colombia*, Croatia, Eritrea*, Falkland Islands, Georgia, Grenada*, Guinea-Bissau, Iraq, Iran*, Israel*, Jordan*, Kosovo, Kuwait*, Laos, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Montenegro, Mozambique*, Nagorno-Karabakh, Palau*, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Russia (including Chechnya), Saudi Arabia*, Serbia, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Vietnam, Western Sahara, Yemen*. (*: country with small residual threat from unexploded submunitions in 2010 / Territories in italics. Albania and Zambia have completed the clearance of their affected areas.)
Why is a ban on cluster munitions necessary?
Cluster munitions kill and injure too many civilians. The weapon caused more civilian casualties in Iraq in 2003 and Kosovo in 1999 than any other weapon system.
Cluster munitions stand out as the weapon that poses the gravest dangers to civilians since antipersonnel mines, which were banned in 1997. Israel's massive use of the weapon in Lebanon in August 2006 resulted in more than 200 civilian casualties in the year following the ceasefire and served as the catalyst that propelled governments to secure a legally-binding international instrument tackling cluster munitions.
Cluster Munition Monitor
The Cluster Munition Monitor was first released in 2010 and builds upon the 2009 report Banning Cluster Munitions: Government Policy and Practice, which was researched and written by Human Rights Watch and Landmine Action (now known as Action On Armed Violence), and published by the Monitor. Cluster Munition Monitor provides a global overview of developments in cluster munition ban policy, use, production, trade, and stockpiling for every country in the world, and also includes information on cluster munition contamination, casualties, clearance, and victim assistance.
Latest News from USCBL
- How Soon is "Soon?": 4 Years Later & World Still Waiting for Conclusion of Obama Administration’s Landmine Policy Review
- September 13, 2013: Calls for Universalization of Cluster Munition Ban at Global Treaty Meeting
- August 29, 2013: U.S. Campaign to Ban Cluster Bombs Calls for U.S. to Reject Any Possible Use of Cluster Munitions in Syria
Check out the great trailer below from our friends at "The Eyes of Thailand."
"The Eyes of Thailand" tells the amazing and heroic true story of Soraida Salwala, a passionate woman who dedicated ten years of her life to help two elephant landmine survivors walk again. Treating their wounds was only part of their journey; building elephant-sized prostheses was another. For more information go to www.eyesofthailand.com.
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For more on the Mine Ban Treaty, go to www.icbl.org
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