A ban on cluster bombs
In 2008 governments negotiated an international treaty, formally known as the Convention on Cluster Munitions, that bans the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster bombs. It also prohibits all countries that have joined the Convention to assist anyone in any activity banned under the Convention, such as the production of cluster bombs. So far, 115 countries have joined the Convention.
Investing in cluster bomb production
Cluster bombs continue to be produced in some countries that have not yet outlawed these weapons. Although countries that have joined the Convention must stop producing cluster bombs, some banks and other financial institutions in or from these countries continue to fund their production by investing in corporations that manufacture them elsewhere. This undermines the commitment these countries have made to ban these weapons and runs counter to their obligations under international law.
To help monitor and curtail the flow of funds to corporations that still manufacture cluster bombs, the Cluster Munition Coalition set up the ‘Stop Explosive Investments’ campaign in October 2009, to coincide with the release of a state-of-the-art report on investment in cluster munitions by financial institutions by CMC members PAX (formerly IKV Pax Christi) and Fairfin (formerly Netwrk Vlaanderen). The goals of the campaign are to raise public awareness about the financial institutions investing in cluster bomb producers, to encourage financial institutions to articulate clear policies on ethical investment with respect to cluster munitions, and to urge governments to adopt legislation banning investment in cluster munitions.
Cluster bombs: a history of harm
A cluster bomb is a weapon that can contain up to several hundred small explosive bomblets. Dropped from the air or fired from the ground, cluster bombs break open in mid-air and scatter these bomblets over a wide area. Anyone within the strike zone is likely to be injured or killed, no matter if they are military or civilian. Many bomblets fail to explode as intended, leaving behind huge quantities of de facto landmines which continue to kill for years or even decades after their use.
Cluster bombs have killed and injured tens of thousands of civilians
Used in more than 35 countries, cluster bombs have killed and injured tens of thousands of civilians and devastated the livelihoods of countless more. Over 380 million bomblets were used in Cambodia, Lao PDR and Vietnam in the 1960s and 70s, and many of these are still killing people today. In the past decade cluster bombs have been used in Iraq, Lebanon, Israel, Georgia, Cambodia, Libya, South Sudan, Ukraine, and in Syria – where use is ongoing.