Published on September 4th, 2019

States condemn continued use of cluster munitions in Syria

During the annual meeting of states parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM), states have collectively condemned all use of cluster munitions by any actor. Several states also called to end investments in cluster munitions producers.

High numbers of cluster munition casualties in Syria…

Russian and Syrian government forces have used cluster munitions in Syria since 2012 and the continued use has led to at least 65 cluster munition casualties in 2018. During the meeting, several states explicitly condemned this use. Syria was also the country with the highest number of casualties recorded in 2018. Civilians accounted for 99% of all casualties whose status was recorded. This is consistent with statistics on cluster munition casualties for all time, and is the result of the indiscriminate and inhumane nature of the weapon.

…but significant decrease overall

However, the overall number of casualties continues to decrease year over year, showing the impact the Convention on Cluster Munitions is having on the ground. A striking example is Laos. Cluster munitions were used extensively in Laos during the Vietnam war, and the country was highly contaminated with unexploded remnants of cluster munitions. Before the Convention was in place, cluster munition remnants caused around 300 casualties every year in Laos. But since the CCM was adopted in 2008, this has dropped to around 30 a year. This has much to do with the efforts to clear cluster munition remnants and make land safe for local communities to use again, that are one of the obligations under the CCM.

More good news came from the Netherlands, that announced it had destructed three-quarters of the cluster munitions it still held for training purposes.

This progress shows how much impact the CCM is already having, but also how much still has to be achieved. At least 149 people fell victim to cluster munitions in 2018, and at least 29 countries and areas are still contaminated with cluster munition remnants. It is important that states continue to participate actively in the meetings of the CCM, and continue to respect their payment obligations to make sure the Convention continues to be successful.

Investing in cluster munition production prohibited

Several states expressed that they understand investing in cluster munitions producers to be prohibited. Chile, which had not previously expressed its views on the issue, stated:

“We join the call to not invest nor finance production of cluster munitions, because it is contrary to the convention and its humanitarian aims.”

Other states, including Ireland, New Zealand  and the Netherlands, made statements reaffirming that investing in cluster munitions or their producers is prohibited under the CCM’s provisions.

To view all statements delivered by states during the 9th Meeting of States Parties, please see here.

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