MEDIA ADVISORY: Arms Experts Urge United States to Reconsider Cluster Munitions Policy as New Treaty Reaches 30th Ratification - Entry Into Force in August

For Immediate Release: February 17, 2010

Media Contacts: Jeff Abramson, Deputy Director, (202-463-8270 x109).

(Washington, D.C.) Yesterday, the United Nations received the 30th instrument of ratification for the Convention on Cluster Munitions, setting the treaty to enter into force August 1. Thus far the United States has not supported the accord, but arms experts at the Arms Control Association urged the Obama administration to reconsider its policy on the weapons and move toward joining the treaty.

"Just as the global community has moved away from using antipersonnel landmines following the Mine Ban Treaty, we expect the same to happen with cluster munitions as the new treaty enters into force," said Jeff Abramson, deputy director of the Arms Control Association.

"The Obama administration announced a comprehensive review of its policy toward landmines in 2009. It should now do the same with cluster munitions," Abramson added.

"U.S. forces have been moving away from using cluster munitions and antipersonnel landmines-a trend that can and should be accelerated," said Daryl G. Kimball, ACA's Executive Director.  The United States has not used antipersonnel landmines since the early 1990s, and it has not used cluster munitions in Afghanistan since 2002 or in Iraq since 2003.

"The use of weapons that disproportionately take the lives and limbs of civilians is wholly counterproductive in today's conflicts, where winning over the local population is essential to mission success," said Kimball.

Cluster munitions are bombs, rockets, and artillery shells that disperse smaller submunitions over broad areas that sometimes strike civilians or fail to explode initially, later injuring or killing military forces and noncombatants. The Convention on Cluster Munitions, which was opened for signature and ratification in December 2008, bars the use of nearly all cluster munitions and obligates countries to destroy stockpiles, conduct clearance efforts, and take steps to help victims.

The 30 countries that have now ratified the treaty include: Albania, Austria, Belgium, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Croatia, Denmark, France, Germany, The Holy See, Ireland, Japan, Laos, Luxembourg, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Malawi, Malta, Mexico, Moldova, Montenegro, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Norway, San Marino, Sierra Leone, Slovenia, Spain, Uruguay, and Zambia.

To date, 104 countries have signed the treaty.

Additional Resources:

Arms Control Association cluster munitions resource page:

UN Secretary General statement:

Cluster Munition Coalition press release: