ALERT- Tenth anniversary of the Convention on Cluster Munition | July 31, 2020

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On 1 August 2020, ten years after the adoption of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, HI applauds the success achieved and calls on states to renew their commitment towards victims and to foster universalization efforts. Civilians are increasingly safer in the territories and states that have ratified the Convention. Nonetheless, the ratification pace is getting […]

On 1 August 2020, ten years after the adoption of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, HI applauds the success achieved and calls on states to renew their commitment towards victims and to foster universalization efforts.

Civilians are increasingly safer in the territories and states that have ratified the Convention. Nonetheless, the ratification pace is getting slower and casualties continue to be recorded in contaminated countries. States Parties will have the opportunity to revitalize the convention during the second review conference in Lausanne, Switzerland, next November. 

Cluster munitions are dropped from aircraft or fired from the ground or sea, opening up in mid-air to release tens or hundreds of sub-munitions, which can saturate 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 very likely to be killed or seriously injured. Similarly to landmines, cluster munitions kill and injure civilians not only during attacks but also many years after their use. A significant number of sub-munitions fail to detonate as intended, usually on impact with the ground or other hard surface. When this happens, sub-munitions become de facto antipersonnel mines killing and maiming people long after the conflict. These “duds” are more lethal than antipersonnel mines; incidents involving sub-munition duds are much more likely to cause death than injury.

The appalling humanitarian impact triggered the reaction of Humanity & Inclusion that decided to co-fund the Cluster Munition Coalition, CMC, in 2003, a coalition that strongly advocated for the drafting, adoption and universalization of the Convention on Cluster Munition by keeping a strong people-centered focus. Thanks to the civil society mobilization and the strong commitment of a group of champion states the Convention on Cluster Munitions entered into force on 1 August 2010. To date, 121 states have joined the convention, of which 108 are States Parties and the remaining 13 are signatories that have yet to ratify. Since its entry into force, there have been no reports or allegations of new use of cluster munitions by any State Party since the Convention on Cluster Munitions was adopted even though such use was registered in non-signatory states such as Syria and Libya.

Towards the Second Review Conference in Lausanne

In the lead up of the Second Review Conference in Lausanne, Switzerland, next November, HI is committed to support the Cluster Munition Coalition campaign centered on universalization, strengthening the stigma and preventing any new use, the protection of cluster munition victims, land clearance as well as gender and diversity in mine action.

The Convention on Cluster Munition was the first treaty setting the highest international standards on victim assistance. In fact, if the 1997 Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention commits states parties to provide assistance for people harmed by a specific type of weapon in its preamble and its provision concerning international cooperation; it is only with the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions that articles fully dedicated to the right of victims and the importance to provide assistance to them were included.

According to the 2019 Cluster Munition Monitor, people injured or killed by cluster munitions in 2018 were recorded in: Afghanistan, Iraq, Lao PDR, Lebanon, South Sudan, Syria, Ukraine, Yemen, and Nagorno Karabakh. 2018 casualty total marked the lowest annual figure since increased cluster munition casualties from new use in Syria were reported in 2012. These data prove the strength of this Convention but also highlight the urgency of keeping the attention high, with civilians accounted for 99% of all casualties due to the indiscriminate and inhumane nature of the weapon.   

2020 marks a unique opportunity to both take the stock of the implementation of victim assistance provisions and set the way forward to identify and meet the needs of cluster munitions victims. Humanity & Inclusion calls on donor and affected states to adopt a Lausanne Action Plan with clear and unequivocally action points that address cluster munitions victims’ needs, protect their rights and ensure their participation; in line with the CRPD and the IHL principles.


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