Convention on Cluster Munitions

The 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions is a disarmament treaty that prohibits use, production, stockpiling, and transfer of cluster munitions and requires each state party to implement or support humanitarian action to remove and destroy cluster munition contamination and assist the victims.

It is prohibited to every state party under any circumstances to use, as well as to develop, produce, otherwise acquire, stockpile, retain or transfer to anyone, directly or indirectly, cluster munitions.   

A cluster munition is defined as a “conventional munition that is designed to disperse or release explosive submunitions each weighing less than 20 kilograms, and includes those explosive submunitions.”Art. 2, 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions. By conventional munition is meant weapons other than biological, chemical, or nuclear.  Thus, cluster munitions are a container that disperses bomblets (the submunitions) in the air and which then fall to the ground individually over an area of some 10,000 square metres (depending on the model and a range of factors). Landmines are specifically excluded from the definition of a cluster munition by the Convention on Cluster Munitions.Art. 1(3), 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions. 

Under Article 4 of the Convention, each affected state is required to destroy all cluster munition remnants in areas under its jurisdiction or control as soon as possible but not later than 10 years after becoming party to the convention. In doing so, affected states parties must:

  • Make every effort to identify all contaminated areas under their jurisdiction or control, in particular through assessment and survey of suspected areas
  • Prioritise action to protect civilians, including risk education among civilians at risk and develop a coherent national plan
  • Mobilise the necessary resources nationally and internationally to fulfil their international legal obligations.

If an affected state party is unable to complete clearance within its 10-year deadline, it may seek to extend the deadline for a period of up to five years at a time. A request is approved or denied by majority of the states parties at an annual meeting or review conference. Only very few states should need to extend their clearance deadline.