Cluster Bombs

Cluster munitions (also referred to as cluster bombs) include cargo containers and explosive submunitions. Fired, launched or dropped by aircraft or land-based artillery, the containers open and disperse bomblets or submunitions over a wide area, often resulting in very dense contamination. The submunitions are designed to pierce armour and can kill anyone within a range of 50 meters with its explosive lethal charge. A single cluster munition strike can spread hundreds to thousands of submunitions over as much as one square kilometer - with no distinction between military or civilian targets.

Cluster munitions also have a failure rate ranging from 5-30%. Those that do not explode on impact become explosive remnants of war. These 'dud' munitions become de facto landmines and must be treated and cleared as such. Throughout 2001-2002, 1,228 cluster munitions containing 248,056 submunitions were used in Afghanistan. In 2003, 13,000 cluster munitions containing an estimated 1.8 to 2 million submunitions were used in Iraq. In recent years, cluster munition use in Syria, Ukraine, Yemen, Libya, Armenia, and Azerbaijan have resulted in new contamination and casualties. In 2010–2019, at least 4,315 new cluster munition casualties were reported in 20 countries and other areas. More than 80% of the global casualties were recorded in Syria, while children accounted for 40% of all casualties. In 2022, the Cluster Munition Monitor recorded 1,172 casualties from cluster munition strikes and cluster munition remnants.

The Convention on Cluster Munitions was finally negotiated and its wording was adopted at the Dublin Diplomatic Conference on May 30th, 2008 by 107 states.  It is a legally binding international treaty that forbids the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster bombs.


Like chemical, biological, and antipersonnel landmine conventions before, the Convention on Cluster Munitions bans an entire category of weapons. The Convention sets the highest standard to date in international law for assistance to victims and their communities. It obliges nations to destroy all stockpiles within eight years and to clear contaminated land within ten. States must also provide detailed annual transparency reports on progress towards meeting their legal obligations.

To date, 123 countries have joined the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) since it opened for signature and 110 countries have ratified it – it entered into international law on August 1st 2010.

Read all our news about cluster munitions here and the Cluster Munition Monitor here. 

Learn more about efforts to Stop Explosive Investments

What still needs to be done?

Use of cluster munitions must be stopped, survivors assisted and unexploded submunitions need to be cleared.

We can absolutely solve this problem in our lifetime – but not without your help! Please ACT, GIVE or LEARN more today.