Update on the convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM)

Remnant of a dual purpose submunition delivered by a MAT-120 cluster munition
© 2011 Human Rights Watch

Gaddafi’s forces used cluster munitions in Libya 

Human Rights Watch (HRW) revealed Gaddafi’s forces using cluster munitions in Misrata, Libya. In a press release on 15 April 2011, HRW reported that “government forces loyal to the Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, fired cluster munitions into residential areas in the western city of Misrata.” HRW observed at least three cluster munitions explosions over the el-Shawahda neighborhood in Misrata on the night of 14 April 2011. Researchers inspected the remnants of a cluster submunition and interviewed witnesses of two other apparent cluster munitions strikes.

Cluster munitions use condemned worldwide

On 15 April 2011, the Cluster Munitions Coalition (CMC) said Libya should “immediately stop all use of cluster munitions”. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, on 20 April 2011, condemned the repeated use of cluster munitions and heavy weaponry by Libyan government forces. The High Representative declared on 29 April 2011 that the EU “strongly” condemned “the continued violence perpetrated by the Gaddafi regime against the Libyan civilian population”. She added that she is “in particular deeply concerned about the reported use of cluster munitions against the civilian population in Libya […] It calls upon the armed forces of Muammar Al Gaddafi to refrain from using force against the civilian population, whether through cluster munitions or any other means. They must take all necessary steps to ensure that civilians are protected from the effects of such munitions, including unexploded remnants of cluster munitions.”

Cluster Munition Coalition condemns use of cluster munitions by Libyan armed forces
Libya’s indiscriminate attacks on civilians in Misrata may be international crimes – Pillay
UCHR Country Page – Libya

Ban Advocate Lynn Bradach on U.S. reacting on cluster munitions use

Reacting to reports that the Libyan military has used cluster munitions against rebels and civilians, the U.S. Secretary of State said she wasn't "surprised by anything that Colonel Gaddafi and his forces do" but described the news as "worrying.” U.S. Ban Advocate Lynn Bradach, who lost her son clearing cluster munitions in Iraq, said: “It is hard to believe that Hillary Clinton, the Secretary of State for the USA can make a statement that makes it seem that a world leader is perpetrating inhumane acts against his people by using cluster bombs when her own country is known to use these same weapons in recent conflicts. Is it that he is inhumane because he is using them against his own people but if he were to use them against Iraq, Afghanistan or possibly Pakistan this could be seen as justifiable? I pray not Hillary. The weapon has been proven to do more harm to innocent civilians than to benefit the troops in times of war. It has in fact been proven to harm our own US troops when we have chosen to use them. I personally know this fact to be true. My son, a US Marine was killed by one of our own cluster bombs in Iraq. Hillary, the use of this weapon is much more than worrying in any situation. This weapon needs to be banned. It is time the US stands up and bans the use of this ‘worrisome weapon’.”

Thailand used cluster munitions in Thai-Cambodia border conflict 

On 6 April 2011, the CMC confirmed that Thailand used cluster munitions in Cambodia during the February border conflict. During on-site investigations by CMC members in five affected areas around the Preah Vihear temple hill, M42/M46 and M85 type submunitions were found. Campaigners in Cambodia met with four men who were injured as a result of unexploded submunitions. A further three were injured and two were killed as a result of unexploded cluster submunitions. In a meeting, the CMC had with the Thai Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva on 5 April 2011, Thailand admitted to using Dual-Purpose Improved Conventional Munitions (DPICM). However, Thailand asserted that it does not classify these weapons as cluster munitions despite the DPICM being the classic example of a cluster munitions. In its press release, the CMC condemned the use of cluster munitions and called on both Thailand and Cambodia to accede to the Convention.
Statements condemning the use were issued by the President of the First Meeting of States Parties and Lao PDR’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister; and from the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs.

CMC condemns Thai use of cluster munitions in Cambodia
President of Convention condemns use of cluster bombs
Norway condemns use of cluster munitions

The CMC called on the CCW to stop negotiations on cluster munitions

During the second session of the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) in Geneva from 28 March to 1 April 2011, States Party to the CCW gathered to discuss a draft protocol (CCW/GGE/2011-II/2) on cluster munitions and its submission for adoption as a legal instrument at the Review Conference in November 2011. The CMC expressed two main concerns regarding the draft Protocol. They reiterated, “The Protocol may facilitate the use of cluster munitions by serving as a shield against the political cost and stigma that result from these weapons already being subject to a comprehensive prohibition in international law (the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions).” They further quoted, “Secondly, by setting a precedent in international law for new instruments that are weaker than established legal protections, this would break with the long-standing tradition of international humanitarian law (IHL) as a progressive effort to protect people from the scourge of war. Such a precedent could be taken up not only for other weapon systems but also for other practices that are considered abhorrent.”

Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) Group of Governmental Experts, Geneva, Switzerland