Activists Hail Defeat of US-led Proposal to Regulate Cluster Munitions

Humanitarian campaigners are applauding the failure of a U.S.-led push to regulate, rather than ban, cluster munitions at the Fourth Review Conference of the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW). The U.S. presented a protocol at the conference, which concluded on 25 November, to set rules on the manufacture and use of cluster bombs. Activists say such regulations would legitimize the munitions and backtrack from the 2008 Oslo Convention – the international treaty seeking a worldwide ban of cluster munitions. Other cluster bomb manufacturers including Russia, China, Israel, India and Pakistan supported the U.S. effort.

The protocol specifically called for destruction of all cluster munitions produced before 1980 while allowing the use of any munitions with a failure rate one percent or less. However Steve Goose of Human Rights Watch argued that the 30-plus-year-old weapons had either “already reached or are nearing the end of their shelf-life and would have to be destroyed anyway.” Humanitarian campaigners argued that anything less than an outright ban would set an unprecedented reversal of international human rights law.

The protocol was objected in an impressive alliance led by Norway, Mexico and Austria – including the International Committee of the Red Cross, top UN officials for human rights, emergency relief and development, and 50 states from Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Europe. “The message from the failed efforts today is clear – cluster bombs are indiscriminate, kill long after they are dropped and are illegal. Countries like China, India, Israel, Russia and the US who say they are seriously concerned about the humanitarian impact, should go home and immediately begin destroying their stockpiles,” said Amy Little of the Cluster Munition Coalition.



Learn about the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) – an international civil society movement campaigning against the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster munitions.



“U.S. defeated in bid on cluster bomb accord,” Reuters, 25 November 2011.

“Setback to U.S. on cluster munitions protocol,” The Hindu, 26 November 2011.

“US led attempt to allow cluster bomb use is rejected at UN negotiations,” Cluster Munition Coalition, 26 November 2011.

“Disarmament advocates hail derailing of flawed cluster bomb accord,” Ekklesia, 27 November 2011.

“Cluster bomb talks fail,” The Irish Times, 28 November 2011.