(Washington DC, April 2, 2015) President Barack Obama should commit to end U.S. use of cluster munitions, said the Cluster Munition Coalition U.S. in a letter to the president on the eve of the International Day for Mine Awareness and Mine Action.
“The U.S. should renounce the use of cluster munitions under any circumstances and join the international ban as more than 100 nations have done,” said Steve Goose of Human Rights Watch, chair of the Cluster Munition Coalition U.S. “Statements by U.S. officials acknowledging the negative humanitarian impact of cluster munitions would carry much more weight if the U.S. itself renounced these weapons.”
Recently, administration officials have criticized civilian harm caused by the use of cluster munitions in Libya, South Sudan, Syria, and Ukraine. Like the United States, none of these states are party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which comprehensively prohibits cluster munitions and requires clearance of cluster munition remnants, as well as assistance to victims of the weapons. A total of 91 states have ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions while another 25 have signed.
The last publicly recorded use of cluster munitions by the U.S. was in Yemen in December 2009. There is no evidence of U.S. cluster munition use in the “Operation Inherent Resolve” military action against forces of the Islamic State or ISIL that began last year in Syria and Iraq, but U.S. policy still allows for cluster munition use. Several states parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions are participating in this operation, including the government of Iraq. These states are legally obliged by Article 21 to promote the convention’s norms by discouraging any use of cluster munitions by states outside the convention.
In addition to calling on the U.S. to cease the use of cluster munitions, in the March 30 letter the Cluster Munition Coalition U.S. has urged President Obama to review U.S. cluster munition policy with the objective of identifying and overcoming any remaining obstacles to accession to the Convention on Cluster Munitions so that the U.S. can join as soon as possible.
The Cluster Munition Coalition U.S. also calls on the U.S. to start participating as an observer in regular meetings of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, starting with the First Review Conference in Dubrovnik, Croatia on September 7-11, 2015.
In 2005, the United Nations General Assembly declared that 4 April of each year shall be observed as the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action. This year, the UN Mine Action Service has declared that the Mine Action Day will focus on “more than mines” by considering explosive weapons including cluster bombs. The U.S. is the world’s largest contributor to global mine clearance and victim assistance programs, which include the clearance of cluster munition remnants and assistance to cluster munition victims.
In recognition of the International Day of Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action, PSALM/WVCBL joined the global community in calling to an end of the suffering caused by landmines and cluster bombs. PSALM students initiated a LEND YOUR LEG DAY OF SOLIDARITY for the victims and survivors of landmines and cluster munitions. PSALM students dedicated this solidarity day to ”the most vulnerable…children”.
The Convention on Cluster Munitions and the Mine Ban Treaty are the only frameworks that guarantee elimination of these two indiscriminate weapons.
The 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions has been saving countless lives around the world; 116 nations have joined the Convention; over 140 million submunitions have been destroyed; hundreds of square kilometres of cluster munitions contaminated land have been cleared; and rights of cluster munitions victims have been recognized and their needs are being addressed.
Cluster munitions, however, remain an international problem and civilians continue losing lives and livelihoods including by new uses of cluster munitions in Ukraine and Libya, as well as widespread ongoing use in Syria.
The Cluster Munition Coalition calls for:
All states not party to renounce cluster munitions and join the Convention;
State Parties of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, as the guardians of the Convention and its norms, to stay vigilant and stand against any use of cluster munitions including the recent use in Ukraine, Libya and Syria;
States Parties of the Convention to enhance efforts in clearing cluster munitions as well as assistance to cluster munition victims.
As with the Convention on Cluster Munitions, there is much to celebrate as a result of the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. One hundred sixty-two (162) countries have joined the treaty; over 48 million stockpiled landmines have been destroyed; casualties caused by landmines have dropped from approximately 25 persons a day in 1999 to 9 persons per day now; people in 30 affected countries enjoy living without danger of landmines; and the living situation of many landmine victims has been improved. But, the job is not finished yet!
The International Campaign to Ban Landmines, therefore, calls for:
States Parties of the Mine Ban Treaty to ensure completion of mine clearance by 2025;
No one to use landmines and South Sudan, where last use of landmines has been reported, to respond to the concerns of the international community.
Gaps in victim assistance services to be addressed in a timely manner.
All the 35 states that have yet to join the treaty, to do so without further delay.
4 April will be marked by ICBL-CMC campaigners, including survivors and youth from all continents, through national campaign actions against landmines and cluster munitions and/or for rights and needs of victims. Campaigners this year will focus their actions on increasing the number of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions to 100 by the time of its First Review Conference that will be held in Dubrovnik, Croatia in early September 2015.
Human Rights Watch chairs the Cluster Munition Coalition U.S. and its sister initiative, the U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines. Formerly known as the U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines and Cluster Bombs, the Cluster Munition Coalition U.S. is the national affiliate of the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC), the civil society engine behind the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
The name changed to Cluster Munition Coalition U.S. this year after the campaign websites were revamped.
For more information, see:
- · Letter to President Obama from Cluster Munition Coalition U.S. March 30, 2015:
For more information, please contact in Washington DC: