Cluster Munitions

Cluster munitions consist of a shell containing multiple submunitions or bomblets. When released, these bomblets are spread over a wide area causing considerable risk to the civilian population, both during and after hostilities. In order to put an end to the unacceptable harm these munitions have caused since the middle of the 20th century, an international convention that prohibits all use, stockpiling, production and transfer of cluster munitions was adopted by 107 states on 30 May 2008.

The Convention on Cluster Munitions

Cluster munitions consist of a shell containing multiple submunitions or bomblets. When released, these bomblets are spread over a wide area causing considerable risk to the civilian population, both during and after hostilities. In order to put an end to the unacceptable harm these munitions have caused since the middle of the 20th century, an international convention that prohibits all use, stockpiling, production and transfer of cluster munitions was adopted by 107 states on 30 May 2008. The Convention on Cluster Munitions was the outcome of the Oslo Process, launched in 2006 by the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs at the time, Jonas Gahr Støre. It was opened for signature in Oslo on 3 December 2008, and entered into force on 1 August 2010.

Considerable progress

Only four years since the Convention was adopted, considerable progress has been recorded. The market for cluster munitions has nearly disappeared, and the use of these weapons has been significantly reduced. Since 2010, the States Parties have destroyed as many as 85.8 million bomblets. This amounts to 60 % of the stockpiles reported by the States Parties. During this period, the list of States Parties has also grown longer. As of October 2012, 111 states have signed the Convention. Of these, 77 have already deposited their instrument of ratification with the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

The Convention on Cluster Munitions is the first effective disarmament treaty to be adopted since the Mine Ban Convention from 1997. It is also the first treaty to ban a whole category of conventional weapons. The negotiations were conducted along similar lines to the negotiations on the Mine Ban Convention, with the active participation of numerous non-governmental organisations, affected states and the United Nations. This is a model for a new and effective approach to international disarmament efforts, with a strong focus on humanitarian principles.

Norwegian leadership

Norway succeeded Lebanon as president of the Convention on Cluster Munitions at the Meeting of States Parties in Oslo in September 2012. For one year, until Zambia takes over the presidency in September 2013, Norway will have a particular responsibility for coordinating international efforts in this field. An important priority for the Norwegian presidency is to promote clearance activities, victim assistance and stockpile destruction as obligations that rest on all States Parties. Norway will also seek to ensure that more countries join the Convention, in particular countries contaminated by cluster munitions.  Read more.