Published on March 5th, 2017
Cluster bombs: a history of harm
A cluster bomb is a weapon that can contain up to several hundred small explosive bomblets. Dropped from the air or fired from the ground, cluster bombs break open in mid-air and scatter these bomblets over a wide area. Anyone within the strike zone is likely to be injured or killed, no matter if they are military or civilian. Many bomblets fail to explode as intended, leaving behind huge quantities of de facto landmines which continue to kill for years or even decades after their use.
Cluster bombs have killed and injured tens of thousands of civilians
Used in more than 35 countries, cluster bombs have killed and injured tens of thousands of civilians and devastated the livelihoods of countless more. Over 380 million bomblets were used in Cambodia, Lao PDR and Vietnam in the 1960s and 70s, and many of these are still killing people today. In the past decade cluster bombs have been used in Iraq, Lebanon, Israel, Georgia, Cambodia, Libya, South Sudan, Ukraine, Yemen, and in Syria – where use is ongoing.
The ban on cluster bombs
In 2008 governments negotiated an international treaty, formally known as the Convention on Cluster Munitions, that bans the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster bombs. It also prohibits all countries that have joined the Convention to assist anyone in any activity banned under the Convention, such as the production of cluster bombs. So far, 120 countries have joined the Convention.