Cluster munitions are deployed from large parent bombs which are dropped from the air or fired from the ground and release dozens or hundreds of smaller cluster submunitions. These cluster submunitions released by air-dropped cluster bombs are called "bomblets", while those delivered from the ground by artillery or rockets are referred to as "grenades." Both together are recognized as cluster bombs/munitions.
These cause serious humanitarian problems and risks to civilians lives. Widespread dispersal of cluster munitions in a very large area without any specific target implies that it can not distinguish between military targets and non-military civilians so the impact on civilian population can be very extreme, especially when the weapon is used in or near civilian populated areas.
Due to the characteristic of many submunitions, they fail to detonate on impact and become de facto antipersonnel mines, killing and maiming civilian people even long after the military conflict has ended. These unexploded submunitions are more lethal than conventional antipersonnel mines and are much more likely to cause death than injury.
CAMAPIGN TO BAN CLUSTER MUNITIONS
Simply put it, cluster munitions kill and injure too many civilians, it poses the gravest dangers to civilians since antipersonnel mines, which were banned in 1997. Eventually, in December 2008, as the result of world wide initiative by NGOs all over the world, international governmental level legal binding treaty was made.
In February 2007, 46 governments met in Oslo to endorse a call by Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store to conclude a new legally binding instrument in 2008.
The Convention’s aims are to prohibit the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm to civilians, as well as to destroy existing stockpiles of the weapons, clear contaminated areas and assist survivors and affected communities.
Subsequent International Oslo Process meetings were held in Peru (May 2007), Austria (December 2007), and New Zealand (February 2008).
Some 107 countries negotiated and adopted a treaty that bans cluster bombs and provides assistance to affected communities in May 2008 in Dublin, Ireland.
The treaty was signed by 94 countries at the Signing Conference in Oslo in December 2008 and entered into force as binding international law on August 1st 2010, after it reached the required 30 nation ratifications in February 2010.
The Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) is a world wide global network of more than 350 civil organizations extending over 90 countries to ban cluster bombs. The CMC was launched in November 2003 and founding members include Human Rights Watch, Handicap International and other leaders from the Nobel Peace Prize-winning International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which secured the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty.
Since the signing of the Convention on Cluster Munitions by 94 countries at the Oslo Conference in December 2008, the CMC initiated an intensive global ratification campaign to ensure that 30 countries ratified the Convention. This was reached on February 16th 2010, less than two years after the treaty was formally adopted.
The following countries and territories are contaminated by cluster munition remnants:
Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Chad, Chile, Croatia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Germany, Iran, Iraq, Lao PDR, Lebanon, Libya, Montenegro, Serbia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Ukraine, United Kingdom(in the Falkland Islands/Malvinas), Vietnam, Yeman and territories of Kosovo, Nagorno-Karabakh and Western Sahara. Among them, most heavily affected states are Lao PDR and Vietnam, followed by Iraq and Cambodia.
Contamination by cluster munition remnants are unclear in the following countries: Angola, Azerbaijan, Colombia, Georgia, Tajikistan.
USERS OF CLUSTER MUNITIONS
At least 21 government armed forces have used cluster munitions:
Colombia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, France, Georgia, Iraq, Israel, Libya, Morocco, The Netherlands, Nigeria, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Sudan, Syria, Thailand, Yugoslavia (former Socialist Republic of), Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States.
Among them, 7 countries have signed or ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions, formally renouncing any future use of the weapon:
Colombia, France, Iraq, The Netherlands, Nigeria, South Africa, United Kingdom.
PRODUCERS OF CLUSTER MUNITIONS
34 countries have produced cluster munitions.
Among them 16 are still believed to produce cluster munitions or reserve the right to do so. Cluster munition producers: Brazil, China, Egypt, Greece, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea, South Korea, Pakistan, Poland, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Turkey, United States.
Other 18 have stopped producing the weapon prior to or as a result of joining the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Former cluster munition producers:
Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Chile, Croatia, France, Germany, Iraq, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom.
Argentina has not joined the Convention on Cluster Munitions but has renounced future production.
STOCKPILERS OF CLUSTER MUNITIONS
Following 91 countries have stockpiled cluster munitions:
There are 32 states that used to have stockpiled cluster munitions but no longer possess any:
Afghanistan, Angola, Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Central African Republic, Chile, Colombia, Republic of Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, France, Germany, Honduras, Hungary, Iraq, Italy, Japan, FYR Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Mozambique, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, Sweden, United Kingdom.
All are state parties to the Convention, except Angola and Central Africa Republic being signatories and Argentina being a non-signatory to the Convention on cluster munitions.
There are 11 states parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions that still possess stockpiles of cluster munitions: Bostwana, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cuba, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Peru, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland.
There are 2 states that have signed but not yet ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions that possess stockpiles of cluster munitions: Indonesia, Nigeria.
There are 46 states that have not yet joined the Convention on Cluster Munitions (non-signatories) that possess stockpiles of cluster munitions: Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belarus, Brazil, Cambodia, China, Egypt, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, Georgia, Greece, India, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, North Korea, South Korea, Kuwait, Libya, Mongolia, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Poland, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Singapore, Sudan, Syria, Thailand, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United States, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Yemen, Zimbabwe.
These data/information is as of 2016 (source from Cluster Munition Coalition).