New report shows Cluster Munition Convention is effective
Ban treaty advances progress in eliminating humanitarian threat of cluster bombs, with deadly
exception of ongoing attacks in Syria
(Geneva, 29 August 2019) – As the treaty banning cluster munitions nears its ten-year anniversary since entering into force in 2010, it remains an effective agreement that is making the world safer, according to the Cluster Munition Monitor, an annual monitoring report released today by the Cluster Munition Coalition.
“As more countries join the Convention on Cluster Munitions and take measures to end the threat cluster munitions pose, we are progressing toward a world free of these inhumane weapons” said Hector Guerra, director of the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC). “Syria must immediately stop using cluster munitions and Russia must refrain from being complicit in this use, and all countries should commit to addressing the harm caused by these nefarious weapons."
For the first time since 2015, the Monitor did not report new use of cluster munitions in Yemen in the year prior to its publication.
It also found that in Syria the number of reported cluster munition attacks has decreased since mid-2017 as government forces have regained areas previously held by non-state armed groups. In 2018, 80 cluster munition casualties were recorded in the country, the lowest annual figure since use resumed there in 2012. The report warns that the actual number of casualties and instances of use are likely far higher as access to Syria is limited and many activities go unrecorded.
Cluster Munition Monitor 2019 reports that three countries have ratified the treaty in the past year—the Gambia, Namibia, and the Philippines—bringing the total number of States Parties to 106.
“The stigma against cluster munitions is growing stronger by the day, as shown by the dedicated work to destroy stocks, clear remnants, and ensure the ban convention is functioning effectively,” said Mary Wareham of Human Rights Watch, ban policy editor of Cluster Munition Monitor 2019. "States that have not joined this convention should reconsider that position and take steps to accede without delay.”
The Cluster Munition Coalition urges states outside the convention to join the Convention on Cluster Munitions ahead of its milestone Second Review Conference in September 2020.
The annual report also finds that States Parties to the convention have already destroyed 99% of their stockpiled cluster munitions, eliminating a collective total of nearly 1.5 million cluster munitions and more than 178 million submunitions. Since the last edition of Cluster Munition Monitor was published in August 2018, Botswana and Switzerland completed destruction of their stockpiles. Guinea-Bissau, however, did not meet its stockpile destruction deadline of 1 May 2019—the first time a state has violated the treaty's eightyear stockpile destruction deadline.
In total, Cluster Munition Monitor 2019 identified at least 149 new cluster munition casualties globally in 2018, a continuation of the significant decrease compared to the annual total of 971 in 2016 and 289 in 2017. While all the casualties recorded due to attacks occurred in Syria (65) in 2018, Yemen had the most recorded casualties due to cluster munition remnants (31), surpassing the annual remnants casualties reported for Syria (15) or Lao PDR (21) for the first time. Casualties related to remnants from earlier conflicts were also recorded in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, South Sudan, Ukraine, and Nagorno-Karabakh. Civilians accounted for 99% of all casualties whose status was recorded in 2018, consistent with statistics on cluster munition casualties for all time, and due to the indiscriminate and inhumane nature of the weapon.
"Our reporting demonstrates clearly that each year nearly all victims of cluster munitions are civilians, with children accounting for more than half of the casualties reported in 2018 due to the explosion of deadly remnant submunitions,” said Loren Persi, casualties and victim assistance editor of Cluster Munition Monitor 2019. “States and the international community need to urgently prioritize assistance and increase resources in order to better address the needs of cluster munition survivors, their families and communities."
States Parties with cluster munition victims have obligations to provide adequate assistance and these provisions have improved the situation for victims since the convention was adopted. Significant challenges remain, however. In the last year, for example, declines in funding for community-based work has left local organizations struggling to maintain their operations. As a result some victims in affected states were not able to reach, or access, vital services.
At least 26 states remain contaminated by these weapons, including 12 States Parties to the convention. No state completed cluster munition clearance in the past year. In all, 10 countries, eight of which are States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, have completed clearance of cluster munition-contaminated land.
Cluster munitions are fired by artillery and rockets or dropped by aircraft, and open in the air to release multiple smaller bomblets or submunitions over an area the size of a football field. Submunitions often fail to explode on initial impact, leaving dangerous remnants that pose the same danger as landmines until cleared and destroyed. The Convention on Cluster Munitions was adopted and opened for signature in 2008, and entered into force on 1 August 2010. It comprehensively prohibits cluster munitions, requires destruction of
stockpiles within eight years, clearance of areas contaminated by cluster munition remnants within 10 years, and the provision of assistance for victims of the weapon.
Read the 2019 Cluster Munition Monitor here.
Stepping up for inclusive mine action
From February 5th to 8th, Mines Action Canada attended the National Mine Action Directors' Meeting for the first time. The National Mine Action Directors' Meeting is a technical meeting focused on field operations rather than the Ottawa Treaty but this year, our Program Manager, Erin Hunt, was asked to address the plenary during a panel discussion on Building Stronger Communities: Youth and Women in Mine Action. Her presentation focused on our youth programming and on gender equality.
The presentation explored MAC's understanding of empowerment and our TEAM approach to youth engagement before speaking about how masculinity affects who belongs in mine action. This image which includes phrases from over 15 languages all outlining a narrow understanding of masculinity.
The presentation included the following ideas about how the mine action sector can step up for a more inclusive mine action which will be a more successful mine action.
- One take away from our youth program is the importance of mentorship and action –getting to work with a leader who looks like you and seeing your work have an impact in empowering.
- We need to seek out and hear from expertise that looks and sounds different.
- We need to be careful that efforts to highlight diversity are not inadvertently cementing limiting stereotypes. For example, if you are profiling a female staff member, don’t refer to her as one of the few women or one of a select number of women working in mine action. Women in mine action are just regular women doing a job. Making it sound like women have to be special to work in mine action reduces the likelihood a woman would see themselves in the job and answer your job posting.
- Please remember youth and women are not homogenous groups and make sure that all sorts of people from those demographics are consulted and included.
- We should learn and talk about gender/diversity more. We often see the same faces at side events about gender or youth – and usually they are women. It would be great to see more people especially men showing up for these sessions so I’m issuing a challenge for everyone in this room to attend at least one meeting, lecture, side event, panel or training on gender or diversity this year.
- When in doubt talk to the Gender and Mine Action Program.
- Finally, if the structures, systems and environment we work in do not have space for youth, women or anyone else who doesn’t fit the current understandings of who belongs in mine action, we need to think creatively, adapt and change the structures.
You can read the whole presentation here and the audio recording of the session is available here.
The Cluster Munition Coalition is 15!
We're celebrating the 15th anniversary of the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC). To mark this anniversary, we have been sharing facts about the CMC on our Facebook and Twitter. In 15 years, the CMC successfully campaigned for the negotiation and implementation of a ban on cluster munitions. The work isn't done yet but today we get to celebrate how far we've come.
It has been ten years since the Convention on Cluster Munitions was adopted in Dublin. In those ten years, the treaty has been signed by 120 states, ratified by 103 states, entered into force, had 7 Meetings of States Parties and a Review Conference and destroyed millions of cluster munitions around the world.
Over the past ten years, victims have seen their access to services expanded in some countries and clearance operations have made land safe to walk on in communities large and small. Thousands of people have worked countless hours to make the words adopted in Dublin a reality for millions.
Also for those ten years, we have been waiting for 17 states to complete the ratification of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. They signed the treaty and still have not become full state parties. For ten years these countries have been one step away from stating clearly and forcefully that cluster munitions, with their over 90% civilian casualty rate, are inhumane, illegitimate and illegal.
Ten years is long enough. Help bring these states on board the Convention on Cluster Munitions this summer. Tell them the time is now - it is time to ratify.
Click below to tweet to each state.
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Cluster munition attacks spike casualty toll as world shows steadfast resolve for humanitarian ban
(Geneva, 31 August 2017) – States are continuing to ratify and implement the international treaty prohibiting cluster munitions while new use of these notorious weapons in Syria and Yemen has caused even more civilian casualties, according to the annual monitoring report released today by the Cluster Munition Coalition at the United Nations (UN) in Geneva.
“Last year, cluster munition casualties doubled, and civilians accounted for nearly all of the victims. The only sure way to end this insidious menace is to have all states embrace and adhere to the international ban on these weapons,” said Jeff Abramson, coordinator of the Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor initiative. “The humanitarian devastation caused by cluster munitions is particularly acute in Syria, where use has continued unabated since mid-2012.”
Cluster Munition Monitor 2017 identified at least 971 new cluster munition casualties globally in 2016, with 860 of these in Syria. This global number is certainly less than the actual total. Disturbingly, the number of casualties in 2016 is more than double the number recorded in 2015 (417), making it the second-highest annual figure since Cluster Munition Monitor reporting began in 2009 (highest was in 2013). When it was possible to identify their status, civilians made up 98% of casualties. Most of these casualties occurred during cluster munition attacks (837 in Syria and 20 in Yemen). Additionally, more than 100 people were known to have been killed or injured by previously unexploded cluster munition submunitions, the deadly landminelike remnants left over from earlier attacks. In Lao PDR, all of the 51 new casualties in 2016 were the result of remnants from cluster munitions used in the 1960s and 1970s. In total, casualties were recorded in 10 countries in 2016, but new attacks causing casualties were recorded only in Syria and Yemen.
Since August 2016, two countries have ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions (Benin and Madagascar), bringing the total number of States Parties to 102. Another 17 states have signed but not yet ratified the convention. Last December, 141 states, including 32 non-signatories to the convention, adopted a key UN General Assembly resolution supporting the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
“Most countries in the world are now part of the Convention on Cluster Munitions and working hard to implement its disarmament obligations,” said Mary Wareham of Human Rights Watch, ban policy editor of Cluster Munition Monitor 2017. “The ongoing use of cluster munitions in Syria is an affront to that steady progress and must continue to be vigorously condemned without reservation.”
Syrian government forces have continued to use cluster munitions, with at least 238 cluster munition attacks recorded in opposition-held areas across the country between August 2016 and July 2017. Russia has participated in a joint military operation with Syrian forces since 30 September 2015. A Saudi Arabia-led coalition of states has used cluster munitions in Yemen, although the number of cluster munition attacks has declined following widespread international condemnation. None of these countries have signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
Cluster munitions are fired by artillery and rockets or dropped by aircraft, and open in the air to release multiple smaller bomblets or submunitions over an area the size of a football field. Submunitions often fail to 2 explode on initial impact, leaving dangerous remnants that pose the same danger as landmines until cleared and destroyed. The Convention on Cluster Munitions entered into force on 1 August 2010 and comprehensively prohibits cluster munitions, requires destruction of stockpiles within eight years, clearance of areas contaminated by cluster munition remnants within 10 years, and the provision of assistance for victims of the weapon.
Under the Convention on Cluster Munitions, 28 States Parties have completed the destruction of nearly 1.4 million stockpiled cluster munitions containing more than 175 million submunitions. This represents the destruction of 97% of all cluster munitions and 98% of all submunitions declared as stockpiled under the treaty. During 2016, three State Parties (Slovakia, Spain, and Switzerland) destroyed 56,171 cluster munitions and 2.8 million submunitions.
In 2016, operators surveyed and cleared at least 88 km2 of contaminated land worldwide resulting in the destruction of at least 140,000 submunitions, both increases compared to the previous year. Mozambique announced the completion of clearance of its contaminated areas in December 2016.
“Efforts to grow the convention's membership continue to be central to stigmatize the use of these weapons and to bring an end to the threat they pose. Convention members have a better understanding of the location and scale of contamination, and will more readily share information about it, compared with states outside the convention,” said Amelie Chayer, acting director of the Cluster Munition Coalition.
At least 26 states remain contaminated by cluster munitions, including 12 States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Continued conflict and insecurity, particularly in Syria and Yemen, is hampering clearance of cluster munitions.
Countries with obligations to improve their assistance to cluster munition victims boosted their commitments to addressing victims’ rights when they adopted a five-year action plan at the convention’s First Review Conference in 2015. The 14 States Parties with cluster munition victims, and national victims’ organizations, face serious challenges because resources made available for them do not measure up to the promise of adequate assistance.
About the Monitor: This eighth annual Cluster Munition Monitor report has been prepared by the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) for dissemination at the Seventh Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions at the UN in Geneva on 4–6 September 2017. It is the sister publication to the Landmine Monitor report, issued annually since 1999 by the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor is coordinated by a committee of ICBL-CMC staff and representatives from CMC member organizations, Danish Deming Group, Handicap International, Human Rights Watch, and Mines Action Canada.
Using the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions as its principal frame of reference, the report focuses on activities in calendar year 2016 with information included into August 2017 where possible. It covers global trends in ban policy and practice, survey and clearance of cluster munition remnants, cluster munition casualties, and efforts to guarantee the rights and meet the needs of cluster munition victims. These findings are drawn from updated country profiles published online.
- Cluster Munition Monitor 2017 and related documents: www.the-monitor.org/ and bit.ly/CMM17
- Cluster Munition Coalition - http://www.stopclustermunitions.org/
- Convention on Cluster Munitions - http://www.clusterconvention.org/
- CMC Twitter - https://twitter.com/banclusterbombs
- Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor Twitter - https://twitter.com/MineMonitor
For more information or to schedule an interview, contact:
- Laila Rodriguez-Bloch, Media Consultant, Geneva (CEST), Mobile/WhatsApp +41 (0) 78 953 0720 or email media [at] icblcmc.org
- Jeff Abramson, Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor Program Manager, United States (EDT), Mobile 1-646-527-5793 or email jeff [at] icblcmc.org
- Erin Hunt, Program Coordinator, Mines Action Canada, Ottawa (EDT), Mobile/Whatsapp +1-613-302-3088 or email erin [at] minesactioncanada.org
Cluster Munition News
It’s been a busy few days in the global efforts to end the suffering caused by cluster munitions. We are thrilled that Madagascar ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions on May 20 becoming the 101st State Party. We look forward to working with Madagascar to achieve the aims of the treaty.
Today, the Cluster Munition Coalition and Dutch peace organization, PAX released the 2017 Worldwide Investments in Cluster Munitions: a shared responsibility report. This report outlines links between the financial community and producers of banned cluster munitions.
Canadians will be concerned to learn that there were still Canadian financial institutions listed on the Hall of Shame. On a positive note, again this year one Canadian financial institution is listed on the Hall of Fame. Recent developments in Canada include the tabling of a private members bill in the Senate to clearly state that investment in cluster munition producers is prohibited in Canada. Mines Action Canada urges all Senators and Members of Parliament to ensure the investing in companies which make these banned weapons is prohibited in Canada.
The full press release is below. Take this opportunity to see if your financial institution invests in banned cluster bombs.
Billions $ invested in producers of globally banned cluster bombs
(Tokyo, 23 May 2017) – While 119 nations have joined the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions to rid the world of cluster munitions, in the past three years, 166 financial institutions invested US$31 billion in companies that produce cluster munitions. Investing in cluster munitions is morally unacceptable with devastating consequences when these weapons are used among civilians. Yet, financial institutions turn a blind eye and continue investing in companies that produce them. The Cluster Munition Coalition urges all financial institutions to stop investing in producers of cluster munitions.
According to the report ‘Worldwide Investments in Cluster Munitions: a shared responsibility’ published today by Cluster Munition Coalition member PAX (the Netherlands), the US$31 billion investment by 166 financial institutions went to six companies that produce cluster munitions. Of the six, two companies are located in China (China Aerospace Science and Industry and Norinco), two in South Korea (Hanwha and Poongsan) and two in the U.S. (Orbital ATK and Textron).
“Cluster bombs are banned for a clear reason, because they disproportionately harm civilians, as is the case with the ongoing use of cluster munitions by Syrian and Russian forces in Syria and by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. That is why no banks or financial institutions should put a penny in companies that produce these illegal and harmful weapons, and no company or country should produce cluster munitions,” said Firoz Alizada, Campaigns and Communications Manager at the Cluster Munition Coalition.
“It is unacceptable to see an increase of US$3 billion investments in producers of cluster bombs in 2017 in comparison to 2016. Nonetheless, we are pleased that Textron, a major producer of cluster bombs in the US announced last year that it would cease the production of cluster munitions and that, by the end of 2017, the company will have no involvement in the production of these weapons,” said Maaike Beenes, co-author of the PAX report. “We will be following closely to see if Textron does indeed end all involvement with cluster munitions this year. We also call on all other producers to stop producing cluster bombs without further delay,” she added.
42 financial institutions in 11 countries have enacted policies ending all investments in cluster munition producers. Furthermore, 46 financial institutions in 14 countries have taken steps to prohibit investments in companies producing the weapons, however, they must fix loopholes in their policies to put an end to all investments in producers of cluster bombs.
The 166 financial institutions still investing in cluster munitions are in fourteen countries. The vast majority of the financial institutions (151) are from countries that have not joined the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Of these, 85 are from the United States, 30 from China and 27 from South Korea. However, 15 financial institutions that have invested in producers of cluster munitions are from countries that have joined the convention: Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. The number of investors in these countries has decreased from 20 in 2016 to 15 in 2017. To fulfill their convention obligations, States Parties to the convention must take action to prohibit investments by all financial institutions.
In strengthening the norm against cluster munitions, ten countries have enacted national legislation banning investments in cluster munitions. In addition, 28 countries have expressed the view that investments in the production of cluster munitions are prohibited.
Prohibiting Investment in Cluster Munitions
Mines Action Canada is pleased to see that Senator Salma Ataullahjan has tabled Bill S-235 an amendment to the Prohibiting Investments in Cluster Munitions Act which aims to amend the current legislation on cluster munitions. Canada has prohibited the production of cluster munitions, but this amendment will go one step further by prohibiting Canadian companies from investing in entities which produce these indiscriminate weapons. MAC welcomes this amendment as a necessary step towards humanitarian disarmament, post-conflict reconstruction, and the protection of civilians.
In her Second Reading speech Senator Ataullahjan effectively summarizes the importance of this amendment when she states, “To invest in companies that produce cluster munitions is to invest in the devastation and misery they cause… Canada has been a global leader against landmines. Let us also be a leader against the production and use of cluster munitions.”
Debate on Bill S235 has been adjourned and should resume after the March break. Keep an eye on our social media for more updates!
Canadian funding for Syria announced
The conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic (Syria) has resulted in extensive landmine, cluster munition and other explosive remnant of war (ERW) contamination. Mines and ERW caused 864 casualties in Syria in 2015 while cluster munition strikes caused another 231 casualties. The contamination will continue to kill and maim people for decades.
At a time when global landmine contamination is dropping, MAC has been very concerned about increasing Syrian contamination.
Today we have some good news though, the Government of Canada announced a $4.5 million CDN contribution to Mayday Rescue to support the Syrian Civil Defence aka the White Helmets. In addition to the post-bombing search and rescue they are famous for, the White Helmets carry out risk education and explosive ordinance disposal/clearance operations in some of the most contaminated areas.
We hope that this support, following the September announcement of $12.5 Canadian over five years to mine clearance in Colombia, is the start of Canada's return to being a top-five donor to mine action. It is time that Canada reasserts its leadership on the Ottawa Treaty and on global efforts to eliminate the suffering caused by landmines, cluster munitions and other ERW.
Minister Dion Visits COPE
Our colleague and Youth LEAP grad Soksai Sengvongkham has excellent things to say about Minister Stéphane Dion's visit to COPE Laos.
Great to see someone trained by our previous Global Affairs Canada funded youth program have the opportunity to show the Minister of Foreign Affairs what Canadian funding can do!
International Day of Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action
On December 8th 2005, the United Nations General Assembly declared April 4th the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action. The purpose of this day is to raise awareness on mine action and remind the population of the danger that landmines pose all over the world. It is also an opportunity to highlight all the exceptional work that mine action personnel and advocacy groups do around the world; and to point out that dealing with explosive hazards are only one aspect of mine action work. It is also a moment for the United Nation to reaffirm its partnership with states, non-states actors and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) like the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) to eradicate all anti-personnel landmines across the globe. This year the ICBL is using the slogan: “Finish the Job 2025” and the United Nations official theme of International Mine Action Day is “Mine action is humanitarian action”. Let’s look at both of those themes.
Finish the Job 2025
In 2014, capitalizing on the momentum provided by the Third Review Conference of the Ottawa Treaty in Maputo, the ICBL challenged the international community to fulfill the promises of the Treaty and to realize a mine free world by 2025. The states present at the Review Conference adopted the Maputo Declaration which set the same goal.
The Ottawa Treaty or as it is often called, the Mine Ban Treaty, was signed in Ottawa in 1997 and entered into law in 1999. It is one of the world's most endorsed treaties. Over 80% of world's countries have committed to it. This universalization of the treaty helps reinforce the stigma now associated with the use of landmines; and this tactic is obviously working. To see the success in action we looked at Landmine Monitor 2005 which identified 6,521 new landmine/UXO casualties in calendar year 2004. The Landmine Monitor 2015 identified 3,678 new casualties in calendar year 2014, the second lowest number of casualties since 1999. The drop in casualties alone between 2005 and 2015 is worth celebrating but there are more successes that show it is possible to Finish the Job by 2025.
In the year the Ottawa Treaty became binding international law, there were 45 states parties. Fifteen years later, we have 162 states parties and Sri Lanka has announced they will soon be #163.
Finish the Job 2025 calls for complete worldwide mine clearance by 2025. An ambitious objective, even by NGO standards, but the ICBL strongly believe that with political determination and commitment from the mine ban community, the States Parties of the Mine Ban Treaty are more than capable of fulfilling their obligations within the next decade. As you noted above, the Ottawa Treaty has made excellent progress over the past ten years and we hope to see similar progress over the next ten. The International Day of Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action provides an excellent opportunity for the international community to stress to decisions makers the important of fulfilling that objective. As UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon declared: "Eliminating the threat of mines and explosive remnants of war is a crucially important endeavour that advances peace, enables development, supports nations in transition and saves lives.”
Mine action is humanitarian action
Mine action is not only about the danger of dealing with explosives, more importantly it is about providing hope and a chance at a better life to thousands of civilians. As the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon affirmed:
“...mine action programmes make an invaluable contribution to post-conflict recovery, humanitarian relief efforts, peace operations and development initiatives. They prevent landmines and other explosive ordnance from causing further indiscriminate harm long after conflicts have ended, and help to transform danger zones into productive land. Mine action sets communities on course toward lasting stability.”
Contamination by landmines and explosive remnants of war prevent civilians from accessing basic necessities such as drinking water. Contaminated lands and farms cripple development of agriculture exacerbating poverty. Thanks to landmine clearance and the hard work of mine action personnel, now communities in the Battambang province in Cambodia can grow produce on their farms and sell them to local markets; while the city of Bentiu in South Sudan now have access to safe drinking water since the local borehole has been cleared of explosive remnants of war.
Mine action also plays a crucial role in relief efforts. For example, in 2014, the World Food Program initiated a project to build a road in South Sudan so that humanitarian assistance could be delivered by road to villages affected by the ongoing conflict. It is estimated that approximately 2.5 millions of South Sudanese were in need of food assistance at that time. However, during the first few days of the project, a bulldozer hit a anti-tank mine. The project had to be suspended while the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) cleared the area of remaining explosive hazards. The team cleared close to 27,000 km of road, allowing vital humanitarian assistance to reach those in need; saving countless lives.
The work that mine action staff do has a concrete and direct impact on the lives of millions of civilians affected by conflict. Every day, countless lives are saved and changed for the better by mine action whether is clearance of land, risk education, assistance to victims or advocacy. One can only hope that in the near future the International Day of Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action be a day of remembrance of what used to be.
Jean-Philippe Lambert Ste Marie is an undergraduate student at the University of Ottawa and a Mines Action Canada research assistant.