Just Out: 2014 Cluster Munitions Report


An annual review of compliance with the Oslo Convention, which bans the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of cluster munitions worldwide,[1] the report reveals that 96% of the world’s 1,038 reported victims of cluster munitions in 2013 were killed or maimed in Syria. Handicap International, one of four NGOs that contributed to the report, strongly condemns the use of these barbarous weapons.

This violence in Syria blighted the otherwise positive achievements made thanks to the Oslo Convention: more than 80% of the stockpiles held by States Parties were destroyed in 2013, and several highly contaminated states, such as Iraq and Chad, ratified the convention.

According to the Cluster Munition Monitor 2014 report, cluster munitions were used in Syria on at least four occasions (July and October 2012, January and March 2013), the only recorded use of these weapons in 2012 and 2013. This repeated use of cluster munitions in Syria drew strong criticism from Handicap International.

“The impact of cluster munitions is even more horrific, because they are used in areas with a high population density,” explains Marion Libertucci, Handicap International’s head of advocacy unit. “The vast majority of the people killed by cluster munitions—97%—were civilians. For example, on March 1, 2013, cluster munitions were used in a residential neighborhood at 11.30 a.m., when children were playing outside in gardens. The attack exacted a heavy toll: at least 19 people were killed and 60 were injured. Cluster munitions kill and maim numerous victims at the moment of use, but unexploded cluster munitions will continue to pose a lethal threat to civilian lives for years to come.”

More than 140 countries have condemned Syria’s use of cluster munitions, including 50 non-States Parties, such as the U.S. “The international outcry against the use of these weapons underlines the fact that the Oslo Convention is now an indisputable international norm, even if the country using them has not joined the Convention, as is the case with Syria,” adds Libertucci.

Handicap International has been assisting victims of the Syrian conflict in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria since the summer of 2012. The teams are working to provide emergency rehabilitation care, distribute walking aids and support hospitals treating wounded people.

The use of cluster munitions by Syria has unfortunately marred an otherwise generally positive report on the application of the Oslo Convention:

  • States Parties destroyed more than 24 million cluster munitions in their stockpiles in 2013, including Germany, France, Italy and Japan. Since the signing of the Oslo Convention, States Parties have destroyed more than 140 million cluster munitions, or 80% of all stockpiles held by States Parties.
  • These weapons still contaminate 38 countries and territories, but clearance is advancing at a rapid pace: more than 180sq.km.of land was cleared since 2010.  
  • New States contaminated by cluster munitions, including Chad and Iraq, ratified the Oslo Convention in 2013. Most victims now live in States Parties, which are therefore under an obligation to meet the needs of these victims.

These advances underline the importance of continuing global efforts against these weapons, and to press for the universalization of the Treaty.

“Worldwide, we count several hundred thousand survivors of landmines, cluster munitions, and other explosive remnants of war,” says Elizabeth MacNairn, Executive Director of Handicap International U.S. “Millions more face the deadly threat of such explosive weapons, left to terrorize civilians decades after conflicts end.

"Knowing the indiscriminate nature of cluster munitions, it’s terrifying that the U.S. continues to stockpile some 730 million submunitions. We should not rest until the U.S. accedes to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.”

The report comes days before the Fifth Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, scheduled for September 2-5, in San José, Costa Rica. A Handicap International delegation will attend.

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[1] The Cluster Munition Monitor coordinated by the ICBL-CMC staff, together with Handicap International and three other NGOs, It is the fifth report of its kind. It reports on a complete range of cluster munition issues including ban policy, use, production, trade and stockpiling around the world. It also provides information on contamination by cluster munitions, weapons clearance and victim assistance. The report focuses on the year 2013.

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