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Bloomberg News
August 27, 2018
Cluster Munitions

Information about cluster munitions.

Work on Cluster Munitions Extended Again

Jeff Abramson

In what has now become an annual occurrence, delegates to a meeting of states-parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) agreed in November to continue work on proposals specifically addressing cluster munitions after failing to reach consensus during the past year. Meanwhile, a different treaty on the weapons grew closer to the number of ratifying states needed for its entry into force, drawing into question the role of future CCW efforts on the topic.

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. An international outcry over use of cluster munitions in southern Lebanon in 2006 and the failure of the CCW to adopt new measures related to the weapons helped lead to the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM), which was opened for signature and ratification last year. That treaty bars the use of nearly all cluster munitions and obligates countries to destroy stockpiles, conduct clearance efforts, and take steps to help victims. (See ACT, December 2008.)

Next year’s CCW group of governmental experts meetings are scheduled to take place April 12-16 and Aug. 30- Sept. 3 “to address urgently the humanitarian impact of cluster munitions, while striking a balance between military and humanitarian considerations,” according to the resolution authorizing the group. Those meetings will take into account a draft protocol on cluster munitions prepared by this year’s experts group chairperson, Gustavo Ainchil of Argentina, the resolution said. Ainchil fashioned the draft text after two weeks of group meetings in February and April, as well as a week of informal consultations in August. (See ACT, May 2009.)

That draft prohibits the use of cluster munitions unless they leave behind no more than 1 percent of unexploded ordnance or possess one of a number of safeguards. It includes a provision allowing for an eight-year deferral of this prohibition, with the possibility of an additional four-year extension if requested. These provisions differ from the CCM, as do other aspects of the draft.

Twenty-four countries have ratified the CCM, and 103 have signed it. The CCM will enter into force six months after 30 states ratify it.

Many delegates from countries that have already signed the CCM argued that a CCW protocol must not weaken progress on controlling the weapons. Calling her country a “strong supporter” of the CCM, Australian Ambassador Caroline Millar said in a Nov. 12 statement to the meeting of CCW states-parties that any future protocol “must provide for a strong humanitarian outcome and progress—not hinder—the development of international humanitarian law.” She listed five elements a CCW protocol should have at a minimum, including “definitional consistency” with the CCM.

A number of the world’s major producers and stockpilers of cluster munitions, including Russia and the United States, have opted out of the CCM, insisting that the CCW is the proper place to negotiate an agreement. In a Nov. 9 statement at the CCW meeting, U.S. representative Harold Koh said, “[M]any States, including the United States, have determined that their national security interests cannot be fully ensured consistent with the terms of the CCM. A comprehensive international response to the humanitarian concerns associated with cluster munitions must include action by those States that are not in a position to become parties to the CCM, because those States produce and stockpile the vast majority of the world’s cluster munitions.”

He reiterated U.S. policy set by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in 2008 that, “by 2018, the U.S. armed forces will not use cluster munitions that, after arming, result in more than 1 percent of unexploded ordnance across the range of intended operational conditions.” Critics of this approach have rejected failure-based criteria, pointing to data showing that failure rates in the field are often higher than in tests.

Koh also argued that the United States needs time to design and replace its existing stockpile, which contains more than 700 million submunitions. Destroying the stockpile, a step required by the CCM, would cost $2.2 billion using current U.S. demilitarization capabilities, he said.

In what has now become an annual occurrence, delegates to a meeting of states-parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) agreed in November to continue work on proposals specifically addressing cluster munitions after failing to reach consensus during the past year. Meanwhile, a different treaty on the weapons grew closer to the number of ratifying states needed for its entry into force, drawing into question the role of future CCW efforts on the topic.

MEDIA ADVISORY: ACA Experts Urge Thorough U.S. Mine Ban Policy Review and Accession to Treaty

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For Immediate Release: December 2, 2009

Contact: Jeff Abramson, Deputy Director, (202) 463-8270 x 109

(Washington, DC) Yesterday at the Cartagena Summit on a Mine-Free World, the United States government indicated that its participation at the meeting “is the result of an on-going comprehensive review of U.S. landmine policy initiated at the direction of President Obama.”

“The announcement of that review is a welcome, if somewhat delayed response to calls from the Arms Control Association and 66 other national organizations for a reconsideration of U.S. policy on landmines and cluster bombs that was issued in February,” said ACA’s Deputy Director Jeff Abramson.

“We urge the Obama administration to conduct their policy review in a thorough and expeditious manner and in consultation with nongovernmental humanitarian and arms control experts,” Abramson said.

“While the United States is a global leader in demining operations around the world, its contributions are undermined so long as it rejects the decade-old Mine Ban Treaty and the new Convention on 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 deployed antipersonnel landmines since 1992, and it has not used cluster munitions in Iraq since 2003 or in Afghanistan since 2002.

“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.

“The Clinton administration put the United States on the path to joining the Mine Ban Treaty. It is time for President Obama to not only put us back on that path, but to see that the United States accedes to the treaty early in his administration,” Abramson said.

 

Key Resources:

U.S. Statement at the CartagenaSummit on a Mine-Free World, December 1, 2009. http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2009/dec/132891.htm

Letter to Obama Administration from 67 national organizations requesting a review of U.S. policy on landmines and cluster bombs, February 2009. http://www.armscontrol.org/system/files/Obama_sign-on_letter_FINAL.pdf

 

For Immediate Release: December 2, 2009

Contact: Jeff Abramson, Deputy Director, (202) 463-8270 x 109

(Washington, DC) Yesterday at the Cartagena Summit on a Mine-Free World, the United States government indicated that its participation at the meeting “is the result of an on-going comprehensive review of U.S. landmine policy initiated at the direction of President Obama.”

“The announcement of that review is a welcome, if somewhat delayed response to calls from the Arms Control Association and 66 other national organizations for a reconsideration of U.S. policy on landmines and cluster bombs that was issued in February,” said ACA’s Deputy Director Jeff Abramson.

“We urge the Obama administration to conduct their policy review in a thorough and expeditious manner and in consultation with nongovernmental humanitarian and arms control experts,” Abramson said.

“While the United States is a global leader in demining operations around the world, its contributions are undermined so long as it rejects the decade-old Mine Ban Treaty and the new Convention on 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 deployed antipersonnel landmines since 1992, and it has not used cluster munitions in Iraq since 2003 or in Afghanistan since 2002.

“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.

“The Clinton administration put the United States on the path to joining the Mine Ban Treaty. It is time for President Obama to not only put us back on that path, but to see that the United States accedes to the treaty early in his administration,” Abramson said.

Key Resources:

U.S. Statement at the CartagenaSummit on a Mine-Free World, December 1, 2009. http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2009/dec/132891.htm

Letter to Obama Administration from 67 national organizations requesting a review of U.S. policy on landmines and cluster bombs, February 2009. http://www.armscontrol.org/system/files/Obama_sign-on_letter_FINAL.pdf

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ACA experts welcome administration decision for thorough review of U.S. landmine policy. Urge the administration to conduct their policy review in a thorough and expeditious manner and in consultation with nongovernmental humanitarian and arms control experts.

Subject Resources:

CCW Extends Work on Clusters Protocol

Jeff Abramson

At what was to be their final meeting of the year, a group of governmental experts failed to complete the text of a possible new protocol to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) specifically addressing cluster munitions. The meeting chairman, however, vowed to push ahead in hopes of reaching an agreement. Meanwhile, a sixth country ratified a separate treaty on the weapons.

Cluster munitions are bombs, rockets, and artillery shells that disperse smaller submunitions over broad areas. Those submunitions sometimes strike civilians or fail to explode initially, later injuring or killing military forces and noncombatants. Outrage over use of cluster munitions in southern Lebanon in 2006 and the failure of the CCW to adopt new measures related to the weapons helped spur the so-called Oslo process that led to the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM). That convention bars the use of nearly all cluster munitions and obligates countries to destroy stockpiles, conduct clearance efforts, and take steps to help victims. (See ACT, December 2008.) In April, Austria became the sixth country to ratify the treaty, which requires 30 ratifications to enter into force.

Despite international pressure, many of the world's top producers and stockpilers of cluster munitions, including Russia and the United States, have resisted calls to join the CCM, instead opting for continued conversation within the CCW. When the CCW failed in 2008 to develop a new protocol on cluster munitions, states-parties agreed to two more rounds of meetings in 2009, Feb. 16-20 and April 14-17. (See ACT, December 2008.)

Led by a new chairman, Gustavo Ainchil of Argentina, the second round of meetings of CCW governmental experts concluded without a final text. It did accept Ainchil's procedural report, which included the text of what could eventually be a sixth protocol to the CCW.

Article 4 of the text outlines general prohibitions and restrictions on cluster munitions that fail to meet one of two proposed standards. (See ACT, September 2008.) The first standard allows usage of cluster munitions that have a still-undefined number of safeguards, such as self-destruct, self-neutralizing, and self-deactivating mechanisms. The second standard follows current U.S. policy, which limits use of weapons with a failure rate of greater than 1 percent. (See ACT, April 2009.) Critics have argued that tests to determine such dud rates are inaccurate.

In a separate article, the draft exempts the same weapons that the CCM does from being defined as cluster munitions, a narrow range of weapons that meet five criteria. At the same time, the draft calls for those weapons to be covered by other provisions within the text, creating a source of contention within the group.

Additionally, the proposal allows states to defer compliance, with certain limitations, for "X years." Defining the length of that period remains a sticking point in the group. The U.S. Department of Defense indicated last year that it will continue to allow limited usage of cluster munitions with a failure rate of greater than 1 percent until 2018. (See ACT, September 2008.)

Recognizing that the CCW draft was incomplete, Ainchil asked to continue working and proposed a new round of informal consultations, tentatively scheduled for August. Because no future formal meetings of the group are authorized, the process for such consultations remains unclear.

The next meeting of CCW states-parties is Nov. 12-13. If progress is made on the text, the chair could submit a report that would serve as the basis for negotiation and possible adoption of a new protocol at the members' meeting.

The United States continues to support the CCW effort. In his closing statement April 17, U.S. delegation head Stephen Mathias said, "Over 95 percent of our cluster munitions will be affected by this new standard."

The impact the protocol might have on other countries' stockpiles is less well understood. John Duncan, British ambassador for arms control and disarmament, told Arms Control Today in an e-mail April 27 that other countries "have been less forthcoming about how this would affect their current stocks and it is this lack of confidence about the practical effect of the new protocol that in large part explains the impasse in the current negotiations." He commented that, for "many Oslo supporters the prohibitions...are not far reaching enough" and that there is "a slim chance that a deal could be made to allow adoption of a new protocol."

Mathias argued against critics who say the text does not go far enough. He said, "We have in front of us a text that, while certainly not perfect from any delegation's perspective, clearly would have a major positive humanitarian impact."

 

 

U.S. Limits Clusters; Global Efforts Ongoing

Jeff Abramson

The United States in March made permanent a ban on the transfer of nearly all of its cluster munitions, and Congress is considering limitations on the use of the weapons. Internationally, Laos, the world's most cluster-impacted country, ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) as other countries continued discussing a potential alternative agreement within the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW).

On March 11, President Barack Obama signed the fiscal year 2009 omnibus appropriation bill that included a provision to bar U.S. transfer of cluster munitions unless the arms have a 99 percent or higher functioning rate and agreements exist that they will only be used against military targets where civilians are not known to be present. This effectively prohibits the transfer of nearly the entire U.S. arsenal comprised of an estimated 700 million or more submunitions. The law makes permanent what had been only one-year provisions, first included in omnibus legislation for fiscal year 2008.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Rep. James McGovern (D-Mass.) introduced bills in February that would bar U.S. use of cluster munitions unless they meet the same guidelines. Similar legislation introduced in the previous Congress failed to win passage. Current U.S. policy requires approval from a combatant commander before cluster munitions that have a failure rate of greater than 1 percent may be used. (See ACT, September 2008.)

Cluster munitions are bombs, rockets, and artillery shells that disperse over broad areas small submunitions that sometimes fail to explode initially, later injuring or killing military forces and noncombatants. In 2008, 94 countries signed the CCM, which bars the use of nearly all cluster munitions and obligates countries to destroy stockpiles and conduct clearance efforts. (See ACT, January/February 2009.)

At a UN meeting March 18 designed to promote the CCM, Laos announced its ratification of the agreement, bringing the total number of ratifying states to five. Thirty ratifications are needed for the treaty to enter into force. (See ACT, December 2008.)

Laos is the world's most cluster-affected country, suffering from a U.S. bombing campaign that dropped more than 270 million submunitions between 1964 and 1973, with as many as 30 percent of those submunitions failing to explode as intended. Laos has not joined the 1997 Mine Ban Convention, citing difficulties in meeting that treaty's 10-year clearance requirement. The ability of Laos to meet similar cluster munitions timelines, once the treaty enters into force, will be uncertain. The country will likely need to request an extension, as 15 countries did last year when they faced their 10-year clearance deadlines under the Mine Ban Convention. (See ACT, January/February 2009.)

At the UN event, the Democratic Republic of Congo signed the CCM, bringing the total number of signatories to 96. Tunisia signed in January.

Many of the major producers and stockpilers of cluster munitions that have not signed the CCM participated in discussions on the weapons held Feb. 16-20 under the CCW. (See ACT, December 2008.) They are scheduled to meet for the final time April 14-17 in Geneva, but expectations are low that an agreement will be reached within the group.

In the United States, leaders of 67 national organizations called on the Obama administration to review U.S. policy on landmines and cluster munitions. In discussing the new limits passed into law, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who helped write the provision, said, "Like Congress's initiative to ban the export of anti-personnel landmines, this can be a catalyst to prompt a review by the Pentagon of U.S. policy, with a view to rapidly ending the use of cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm to innocent civilians."

Experts Urge Obama Administration to Reconsider Landmine Policy on Mine Ban 10th Anniversary

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Media Advisory

For immediate release: February 27, 2009
Press contact: Jeff Abramson, Research Analyst (202) 463-8270 x 109; Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, (202) 463-8270 x 107

To mark the tenth anniversary of the highly successful Mine Ban Treaty, arms control experts are calling on President Obama to get in line with key U.S. allies and the international community by bringing the United States into the agreement.

"The Mine Ban Treaty anniversary offers the Obama administration, as well as that of other holdout countries, a chance to change course and join the global norm against weapons that have a humanitarian impact that far outweighs any possible military advantage derived from them," said Jeff Abramson, conventional arms research analyst at the Arms Control Association.

As a senator, Barack Obama was supportive of restricting procurement of victim-activated landmines. During the campaign, Obama told Arms Control Today that he would "regain our leadership...[by] honoring U.S. commitments to seek alternatives to landmines," but thus far has not taken up the issue.

By far the world's largest funder of mine action assistance, the United States has not used antipersonnel landmines since the 1991 Persian Gulf War, has prohibited their export since 1992, and has not produced new antipersonnel mines since 1997. The Clinton administration set up a path for the United States to join the Mine Ban Treaty but the Bush administration rejected the treaty.

"For an administration promising to 'renew America's security and standing in the world through a new era of American leadership,' acting to support the Mine Ban Treaty is a vital step," Abramson said.

The Mine Ban Treaty, also known as the Ottawa Convention, was concluded in 1997 and entered into force March 1, 1999. Ten years ago, 71 countries were party to the treaty. Today, 156 countries are legally bound by it. Each of these countries has committed to complete the clearance of mine-impacted land under their jurisdiction and to destroying their stockpiles of antipersonnel landmines, with the exception of the "minimum number absolutely necessary" for detection and destruction training.

The use and trade of landmines has virtually ceased and the number of mines in existence has been greatly reduced. In the mid 1990s it was estimated that more than 130 countries stockpiled a global total of 260 million antipersonnel landmines. According to the most recent Landmine Monitor annual report, the global stockpile is down nearly 100 million, now totaling 167 million worldwide. The vast majority of that stockpile is owned by three of the 39 countries not party to the treaty: China (110 million estimated landmines stockpiled), Russia (24.5 million estimated), and the United States (10.4 million). Most countries party to the treaty maintain no stockpile, not even for training purposes.

Despite this progress, there remains much to do to reach the treaty's goal of a mine-free world. In 2007, there were 5,426 casualties attributed to mines, explosive remnants of war, and victim-activated improvised explosive devices. That number that has been gradually decreasing since the treaty came into force, but some countries are starting to miss their four-year deadlines for stockpile destruction and 10-year deadlines for mine clearance. Outside assistance to help mine-impacted countries dipped in 2007 and may be further impacted by the global economic situation.

"U.S. accession to the Mine Ban Treaty would provide the leadership needed to permanently end the danger from these weapons and alleviate the suffering of those already impacted," said Daryl Kimball, Executive Director of the Arms Control Association.

Abramson also noted that, "The Mine Ban treaty is one of a number of existing and emerging international arms control agreements for which positive U.S. leadership is needed, including on the Convention on Cluster Munitions and an arms trade treaty."

In the past three months, 95 countries signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions. That agreement is patterned after the Mine Ban Treaty and supported by the United Kingdom and a majority of NATO countries. The Bush administration argued against the convention, but leaders of 67 national organizations recently asked Obama to review that assessment.

The United States is also the world's top arms supplier but has not supported a global effort to develop a global arms trade treaty (ATT). Such a treaty, which could protect U.S. national interests and global security from the worst effects of the trafficking of military equipment, has been on the international agenda for years. Next week, a UN open-ended working group will hold its first week-long session to discuss the topic.

 

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To mark the tenth anniversary of the highly successful Mine Ban Treaty, arms control experts are calling on President Obama to get in line with key U.S. allies and the international community by bringing the United States into the agreement. (Continue)

ACA Joins in Calling for Obama to Review Cluster Munitions and Landmine Policy

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Letter to the Obama Administration from 67 national organizations, requesting a review of U.S. policy on landmines and cluster bombs.

http://www.fcnl.org/weapons/pdfs/Obama_sign-on_letter_FINAL.pdf

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Letter to the Obama Administration from 67 national organizations, requesting a review of U.S. policy on landmines and cluster bombs.

Countries Sign Cluster Munitions Convention

Jeff Abramson

During a December ceremony in Oslo, 94 countries signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM), including many western European countries that have stockpiled and produced the weapons. Unexpectedly, Afghanistan also agreed to the treaty, breaking with the United States, which reiterated its preference for a separate process that would recognize greater military utility for cluster munitions while establishing some limits on their use. As expected, other major producers and stockpilers, including China, India, Israel, Pakistan, and Russia, did not sign the treaty.

The Dec. 2-4 signing ceremony culminated a relatively rapid process begun in February 2007 with an Oslo meeting to negotiate a legally binding agreement on cluster munitions. The CCM, which resulted from the so-called Oslo process, bans nearly all cluster munitions and sets guidelines for stockpile destruction and clearance, as well as assistance to and involvement of cluster munition victims. (See ACT, December 2008.)

At the ceremony, Norway signed and ratified the treaty. So too did Ireland, which hosted the critical May 2008 meeting where the treaty text was concluded with key compromises allowing for military cooperation with nonmember states and the use of weapons that meet stringent criteria to avoid indiscriminate effects. (See ACT, July/August 2008.) Those compromises made it easier for NATO allies to sign the convention, 18 of which did so at the ceremony.

Afghanistan, currently supported by NATO troops, signed the treaty at the last moment. In explaining the move, Ambassador Jawed Ludin noted that his country belonged to "a region that suffers from dangerous overarmament" and credited the advocacy of Afghan victims of cluster munitions in the decision. Cluster munitions were used by Soviet forces in Afghanistan during 1979-1989 and again by U.S. forces during 2001-2002.

The Holy See and Sierra Leone were the only other states to ratify the treaty, which will enter into force six months after the 30th state ratifies it.

As the Oslo ceremony was beginning, the Department of State released a statement reiterating Washington's position that "such a general ban on cluster munitions will put the lives of our military men and women, and those of our coalition partners, at risk." The United States has adopted a policy that limits the use of weapons that fail to detonate as intended more than 1 percent of the time. It is also pursuing an agreement on cluster munitions within the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. (See ACT, December 2008.)

Other major producers and stockpilers, including China and Russia, are also participating in that process, which reconvenes in February, and did not sign the treaty.

The position of Russia, which used cluster munitions in Georgia last summer, may be particularly relevant to some of its eastern European neighbors. Finland, which indicated in May that it would sign the treaty but then stated in October that it would not, is concerned about defending itself against potential Russian aggression, according to Finnish and Japanese media reports. An Oct. 31 government statement did not mention Russia but said that the CCM "will be discussed again after an evaluation of defence capabilities has been carried out and the international development work along with the supply and cost options of cluster munitions have been analysed." Finland indicated in 2004 that it would join the anti-personnel Mine Ban Convention in 2012 and subsequently that it would seek to replace its landmines in part with cluster munitions.

According to the press reports, Poland is also retaining cluster munitions to protect itself. On Sept. 9, the Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza quoted Defense Minister Bogdan Klich as saying, "We need those weapons to defend our territory."

Cluster munitions are bombs, rockets, and artillery shells that disperse small submunitions over broad areas that sometimes fail to explode initially, later injuring or killing noncombatants. The United States, which possesses a stockpile of more than 700 million submunitions, used the weapons in the 1960s and 1970s in Southeast Asia, leaving an estimated 20 million unexploded bomblets in Laos alone at the end of the Vietnam War with casualties still occuring today. In signing the CCM, Laotian Deputy Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith claimed that the "signing of the convention...is just the beginning of our journey to the ultimate goal of eradicating the scourge of cluster munitions and liberating the people and our children from fear and threat of such [a] silent killer. If we are to achieve this goal, this convention has to be fully and effectively implemented."

 

Cluster Munitions Convention Leaders Voted 2008 "Arms Control Persons of the Year"

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December 29, 2008
Contact: Jeff Abramson, Research Analyst (202) 463-8270 x 109

(Washington, D.C.) Norway's Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre and his ministry's Director-General for Security Policy and the High North Steffen Kongstad garnered the highest number of votes in an online poll to determine the "2008 Arms Control Person of the Year." Nine other individuals and institutions were nominated by the Arms Control Association.

Dissatisfied with the pace of global efforts to control the use of cluster munitions, Støre announced in 2006 that his country would convene an effort to create an international ban on the weapons. The Oslo process led to the negotiation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which 94 countries signed in December 2008. Kongstad led Norway's crossdepartmental effort and was added as an award recipient after many voters wrote in his name.

"The Convention on Cluster Munitions is the most important new humanitarian arms control treaty of the still-young century and Norway's Støre and Kongstad deserve great praise for their leadership," said Jeff Abramson, conventional weapons analyst with the Arms Control Association.
"Working with other countries and a dedicated coalition of civil society leaders and cluster munitions survivors, their actions spurred meaningful progress to bar indiscriminate weapons that have killed or maimed tens of thousands of noncombatants," Abramson added.
Cluster munitions are bombs, rockets and artillery shells that release smaller submunitions over a broad area, often injuring civilians during conflict or afterwards when initially unexploded devices later detonate when disturbed. For more information on cluster munitions and the Convention on Cluster Munitions see http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2008_12/CCM.
"The purpose of the 'Arms Control Person of the Year' poll is to highlight the positive contributions of key figures around the globe in reducing the threats posed by the world's most dangerous weapons," said Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association.

Other top vote-getters were the lead U.S. negotiator dealing with North Korea and a group of four former U.S. officials who have called for progress on moving toward a nuclear weapons free world.
Christopher Hill, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, was nominated "for persistently maintaining a difficult dialogue with North Korea on steps leading to its eventual denuclearization, potentially preventing the resumption of its plutonium production for nuclear weapons."
Former Secretaries of State George Shultz, Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of Defense Bill Perry, and former Sen. Sam Nunn were included "for their catalytic January 2007 and 2008 op-eds in The Wall Street Journal calling for renewed U.S. leadership on practical steps 'toward a world free of nuclear weapons.'"

The online poll was open between Dec. 16-28, 2008. For the list of all 2008 nominees, see http://www.armscontrol.org/2008personofyear.
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Norway's Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre and his ministry's Director-General for Security Policy and the High North Steffen Kongstad garnered the highest number of votes in an online poll to determine the "2008 Arms Control Person of the Year." Nine other individuals and institutions were nominated by the Arms Control Association. (Continue)

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Treaty ANALYSIS: The Convention on Cluster Munitions

Jeff Abramson

On Dec. 3, more than 100 countries are expected to sign the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) during a ceremony in Oslo. If at least 30 states deposit their instruments of ratification that day as anticipated, the new treaty should enter into force six months thereafter. Sharing many features with the 1997 Ottawa Convention on anti-personnel landmines and supported by many of the same individuals and organization who created that treaty, the CCM calls for the clearance and destruction of virtually all existing cluster munitions. It also includes novel measures on victims' human rights and access to health care, education, and decision-making. As such, the CCM could establish an international norm against the use of these weapons and strengthen the rights of victims of armed conflict.

Countries holding the majority of the world's cluster munitions stockpiles, however, have thus far not backed the CCM, instead opting to address the humanitarian impact of the munitions within the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW). In 2006, Protocol V of the CCW entered into force addressing explosive remnants of war, a broad category that encompasses cluster munitions. More recently, a separate discussion on a so-called Protocol VI that would explicitly concern cluster munitions has taken place within a CCW group of governmental experts. That process failed to reach agreement on a new cluster munitions-specific protocol in 2008 but is expected to continue work in 2009.

Cluster munitions are bombs, rockets, and artillery shells that disperse small submunitions over broad areas and sometimes fail to explode initially, later injuring or killing noncombatants. The weapons date back to at least World War II. The United States, which possesses a stockpile of more than 700 million submunitions, used the weapons in the 1960s and 1970s in Southeast Asia, leaving an estimated 20 million unexploded bomblets in Laos alone at the end of the Vietnam War. Israel fired cluster munitions into Lebanon during hostilities in the summer of 2006, with perhaps 1 million submunitions failing to explode initially according to Handicap International. (See ACT, January/February 2008.) Hezbollah reportedly fired other cluster munitions into northern Israel that same year. More recently, Russia and Georgia used the weapons against each other this August. (See ACT, September and October 2008.)

The 2006 exchange raised a humanitarian outcry, and at the end of that year, Norway announced that it would take the lead in restricting the weapons after Russia, the United States, and some other countries party to the CCW refused to accelerate the pace of work on the weapons in that forum. The so-called Oslo process drew on a nongovernmental movement that had already coalesced around the weapons, comprised of many of the same individuals and organizations that had led the effort to create the 1997 Ottawa Convention banning anti-personnel landmines. (See ACT, December 2007.) Through major conferences in Oslo (February 2007); Lima (May 2007); Vienna (December 2007); Wellington (February 2008); and smaller, regional meetings, the Oslo process expanded to include more than 100 countries that agreed to the text of the convention on May 30, 2008, in Dublin.

Key compromises made during the Dublin meeting allowed many NATO partners, notably the United Kingdom, to support the convention despite U.S. pressure and disagreement with the Oslo approach. Most notably, Article 21 was inserted permitting military cooperation between states whether or not they were party to the treaty. The definition of cluster munitions also permitted the use of weapons that have cluster-like features provided that they meet five criteria designed to make sure the weapons avoid indiscriminate area effects.

Since the Dublin meeting, the United States has clarified its cluster munitions policy, reiterating that the weapons have military utility against massed formations as well as dispersed and moving targets and stating that by 2018 it will not use weapons with a failure rate of 1 percent or greater. Critics have called into question the reliability of tested failure rates and called on the United States and other major cluster weapons possessors to join the CCM. Within the CCW, member states have considered some limitations on the use of certain cluster munitions, but the last draft text still recognized the military utility of the weapons.

Ultimately, the treaty's effectiveness as a global norm will depend on the actions of nonparties as well as states-parties. It is unclear whether the CCW will be able to negotiate a complementary agreement that will include the world's major producers and users of cluster munitions, but the CCM has demonstrated that the majority of the world's countries seek to eliminate a weapon that endangers innocent civilians long after the fighting ends.

The Oslo process itself, by going outside the CCW, may convince countries to seek new fora for other arms control agreements. In particular, efforts to create a global arms trade treaty (ATT) have the backing of a vast majority of UN members and support from many of the same nongovernmental organizations involved in the CCM and Ottawa Convention. Discussions on an ATT are now headed to a UN open-ended working group, pending anticipated General Assembly approval. If that process moves too slowly, it would not be surprising if a future Oslo-like process were launched to develop norms on the transfer and use of all conventional weapons.

The Convention on Cluster Munitions

The CCM is patterned after the Ottawa Convention, in some places sharing the same language. Similar to that treaty, it expresses a strong commitment to end the humanitarian harm caused by a class of weapons and lacks the extensive implementation, verification, and compliance components of other major treaties.

The treaty's preamble stresses the determination of states-parties to "put an end for all time to the suffering and casualties caused by cluster munitions at the time of their use, when they fail to function as intended or when they are abandoned" and "also to ensure the full realization of the rights of all cluster munitions victims and recognizing their inherent dignity."

In order to highlight those rights, the treaty includes a full article on victim assistance, which is missing in the Ottawa treaty.

It also diverges from the landmine model by not calling for a "total ban," instead allowing for future development of specifically defined weapons that would "avoid indiscriminate area effects and the risks posed by unexploded submunitions." In addition, it contains a unique article permitting states-parties to engage in military cooperation and operations with non-states-parties, even when cluster munitions are used, as long as a state-party does not request the use of the weapons.

Although welcoming CCW Protocol V on explosive remnants of war, the preamble emphasizes the wish "to enhance the protection of civilians" and "the desirability of attracting adherence of all States to this Convention, and [determination] to work strenuously towards the promotion of its universalisation and its full implementation."

Treaty Scope: The CCM's general obligations outlined in Article 1 are unambiguous: no cluster munition use, development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, or transfer to anyone. Subsequent articles oblige states-parties to clear and destroy cluster munitions under their control. Article 2's definition of a cluster munition includes a number of noncontroversial items, such as munitions designed to disperse flares or smoke, to be used for air defense, or to produce "electrical or electronic effects." The most important definitional change, reflecting a compromise worked out at the Dublin convention, is the noninclusion of munitions that have explosive submunitions meeting all of the following characteristics: numbering fewer than 10; weighing more than 8.8 pounds and less than 44 pounds; designed to detect and engage a single target; and equipped with an electronic self-destruct mechanism and an electronic self-deactivating feature. Although this allows for the retention of some weapons, such as the German-produced SMart-155 and the Swedish/French BONUS, and future development of those weapons designed to avoid indiscriminate area effects, treaty advocates stress that the definition captures virtually all cluster munitions that have been used to date. (Mines are also not included in the treaty.)

Exceptions: Article 3 of the treaty defines two exceptions to the accord's general obligations. First, states-parties are allowed to retain or transfer "the minimum number absolutely necessary" for the development of and training in cluster munitions detection, clearance, and destruction techniques, as well as countermeasure development. Second, states-parties may transfer cluster munitions for the purpose of destruction.

Relations With States Not Party to the Treaty: Article 21 obliges states-parties to the treaty to encourage nonmembers to ratify it, but allows for military cooperation between states regardless of membership, even if states not party to the treaty might engage in prohibited activities. States bound by the treaty are not allowed to "expressly request the use of cluster munitions where the choice of munitions used is within its exclusive control." This carefully crafted language represented a compromise at the Dublin conference that helped win the support of NATO countries, in particular the United Kingdom. Prior to the conference, the United States suggested that the treaty might make it impossible for the United States to cooperate on military and humanitarian relief missions because U.S. ships and forces carried cluster munitions. Many treaty advocates had sought to deny interoperability of forces, in the hopes that such provisions would convince those not party to the treaty to abandon cluster munitions.

Destruction and Clearance: Under Article 3's destruction provision, each state-party must destroy its stockpile of treaty-defined cluster munitions within eight years of entry into force of the treaty for that state. Under Article 4, which addresses clearance of cluster munitions-contaminated areas, each state-party commits to "clear and destroy, or ensure the clearance and destruction, of cluster munition remnants located in...areas under its jurisdiction or control" within 10 years of the treaty's entry into force for that state. A party may request an extension of up to four years to complete stockpile destruction and an extension of up to five years to complete clearance of contaminated areas. Such requests must include detailed plans and be approved by a majority of states-parties present at the vote.

In the Dublin negotiations, the destruction timelines were lengthened from earlier drafts or model treaties. The Ottawa landmine treaty only allows four years for stockpile destruction, and the Wellington draft of the CCM called for six years. The Wellington draft also only permitted five years for clearance of cluster munitions-contaminated areas.

Victim Assistance: Victims rights advocates hailed the inclusion of Article 5 on victim assistance because it linked human rights with an arms treaty. The article obligates states-parties to develop a national plan and budget to provide cluster munitions victims with medical care, rehabilitation, and psychological support and to "[c]losely consult with and actively involve" cluster munitions victims. Cluster victims are defined very broadly in Article 2 not only to include those physically harmed, but those who have suffered "psychological injury, economic loss, social marginalization or substantial impairment of the realization of their rights by the use of cluster munitions."

Cooperation and Assistance: Article 6's provisions on international cooperation and assistance are similar to the Ottawa Convention, entitling each state-party to seek and receive aid from other parties and international institutions. No formula is provided in the treaty, instead those states "in a position to do so" are called on to "cooperate with a view of ensuring the full and prompt implementation of agreed assistance programmes." In Article 4, states that have used or abandoned cluster munitions in another state's territory are "strongly encouraged" to provide assistance.

Transparency: Under Article 7, each party shall provide the UN secretary-general (the treaty depositary), within 180 days after the treaty's entry into force for that state, a detailed report of its progress in implementing the treaty. The reports include similar information as that required by the Ottawa Convention, including stockpiles, affected areas, steps taken to protect nearby populations, and clearance and destruction programs, as well as additional information, such as the amount of national resources allocated to stockpile destruction, clearance, and victim assistance and types of cooperation and assistance given and received. These declarations will thereafter be made on an annual basis not later than April 30 and will be transmitted to all states-parties.

Compliance: Article 8 allows any state-party to submit, through the secretary-general, a "Request for Clarification" relating to compliance by another treaty party. In the absence of clarification or the presence of what the requesting party determines is an unsatisfactory clarification, the issue may be brought to the subsequent meeting of states-parties. Unlike the Ottawa Convention, which details a number of timelines and allows for fact-finding missions, the treaty simply empowers the meeting of states-parties to take measures it deems appropriate.

Meetings and Amendments: Under Article 11, the secretary-general must convene the first meeting of states-parties within one year after the convention's entry into force to consider any issue involving treaty implementation. Thereafter, these meetings will occur annually until the first review conference, which the secretary-general will convene five years after the convention's entry into force (Article 12). Subsequent review conferences may occur at intervals of at least five years. Article 13 allows any state-party to propose amendments to the convention any time after it enters into force. If a majority of states-parties support its consideration, the secretary-general will convene an amendment conference, which must approve any amendment by a two-thirds majority of voting states.

The costs of all meetings and conferences shall be borne by states-parties and participating states (for example, as observers) according to the UN scale of assessment.

Entry Into Force: Article 17 stipulates that the convention will enter into force on the first day of the sixth month after the month in which the 30th instrument of ratification is deposited. For states that deposit their instruments after the date of deposit of the 30th instrument, entry into force shall occur on the first day of the sixth month after its date of deposit. Under Article 18, any state may, by declaration, apply provisionally the convention's general obligation (Article 1) at the time of ratification, acceptance, approval, or accession.

Reservations and Withdrawal: Article 19 states that no treaty article is subject to reservation. Article 20 mandates that the convention be of unlimited duration but allows a right of withdrawal to take effect six months after the depositary receives the instrument of withdrawal. If a state-party is engaged in an armed conflict at the end of the six-month period, the withdrawal will not take effect "before the end" of the conflict.

The full text of the CCM is available at www.armscontrol.org.

 

CCW Fails to Reach Cluster Munitions Pact

Jeff Abramson

In November, delegates to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) failed to reach agreement on a new protocol specifically addressing cluster munitions, but committed to continue work in 2009. Countries possessing the vast majority of these weapons have insisted that the CCW is the proper forum for such discussion, thus far opting out of a separate treaty that opens for signature in December.

The CCW was under pressure to take action this year after negotiations in the so-called Oslo process agreed in May on the text of the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM). That treaty, which effectively bans all cluster munitions types used to date, is expected to garner signatures from more than 100 states at a ceremony in Oslo Dec. 3 and enter into force six months later. Many of its supporters expressed skepticism about the relevance of the CCW after the CCW was again unable to adopt its own measures on the weapons.

The CCW group of governmental experts discussing cluster munitions debated text that allowed for continued use of the weapons but envisioned some limitations. The meeting was supposed to end Nov. 7, but meeting chair Danish ambassador Bent Wigotski called for stopping the clock to allow debate to continue. Some delegations expressed frustration at the measure, noting that their experts were already heading home and unable to return for further discussion. Such clock-stopping is frequently used when negotiations are particularly close to conclusion.

Ultimately, however, no consensus was reached. During the meeting of CCW states-parties Nov. 13-14, Russia objected to using the word "protocol" if further work were to continue. Instead, states-parties agreed to continue their negotiations on "proposals," with the group of governmental experts meeting for up to two weeks in 2009, Feb. 16-20 and April 14-17.

Stephen Mathias, head of the U.S. delegation to the meeting, said Nov. 13, "Our failure is all the more disappointing because the opportunity to agree to a protocol that would have had substantial humanitarian benefits was within our grasp." In his statement, he highlighted that Russia and the United States, "arguably two of the largest stockpilers of cluster munitions," had agreed that the proposal would have required both countries "to significantly overhaul their existing stocks."

In a Nov. 19 e-mail to Arms Control Today, a diplomatic source blamed core supporters of the CCM, including Austria, Mexico, New Zealand, and Norway, for rejecting the proposed text. The source indicated that the major advantages of the proposed text were prohibitions on all cluster munitions without at least one safety feature, such as self-destruct or self-neutralizing mechanisms; a ban on transfers of all munitions produced before 1990; and a ban on transfers to nonstate actors. According to the diplomat, these restrictions would cover 95 percent of all cluster munitions stockpiles.

In a Nov. 19 e-mail, however, a European diplomat blamed the meeting's chair for not including the views of core CCM supporters. The diplomat indicated that the proposal would have more closely maintained the status quo.

In a Nov. 14 press release, the nongovernmental Cluster Munition Coalition also called the CCW proposal "weak" and noted that, with its failure, the CCM "remains [the] best and only road ahead on cluster bombs."

CCW meetings next year will be chaired by a diplomat from Argentina. Wigotski, who drew both praise and criticism from meeting participants, is now his country's ambassador to Cyprus and no longer serves as ambassador for arms control and disarmament.

John Duncan, British ambassador for arms control and disarmament, told Arms Control Today in an e-mail Nov. 21 that the CCW could still succeed. He wrote, "the agreement of the major users and manufacturers of cluster munitions to continue negotiations leaves room for hope that a new protocol will be agreed next year." London will continue to participate in the work. Duncan stated, "It is very important that those who cannot agree to sign the new Oslo treaty do not seek to undermine it."

 

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