© UNMAS/Giovanni Diffidenti
© UNMAS/Giovanni Diffidenti

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Cluster Munitions and Mine Action

Since the antipersonnel mine-ban treaty went into force in 1999, the number of new victims each year has dropped, large tracts of land have been cleared, and the number of stockpiled mines has decreased by millions. Despite this it, left unaddressed another major problem: explosive remnants of war, which were killing thousands of civilians annually.  

"Explosive remnants of war" (ERWs) refer to abandoned explosive ordnance and unexploded ordnance (UXO) such as cluster munitions that fail to detonate but remain volatile and dangerous, often threatening the safety of civilians. Of particular concern are cluster submunitions which fail to detonate on impact and become de facto antipersonnel mines killing and maiming people long after the conflict has ended.

UN-supported mine-action programmes help countries eliminate the threat of landmines and explosive remnants of war. An international movement seeking to address the issue and to limit the use of cluster munitions led to The Convention on Cluster Muntitions, which entered into force on 1 August 2010.

For information on where a particular country stands regarding the production, use and stockpiling of cluster munitions as well as the status of their ratification of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, please refer to the Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor searchable country reports.

Reports and essays that describe the problem of cluster munitions and present ideas for limiting their use may be accessed through the following thematic links. Also below are links to organizations that are leading a movement to protect civilians from these weapons. 

The Convention on Cluster Munitions entered into force and became binding international law on 1 August 2010. State parties  are now bound by all of its terms, and must begin to meet deadlines for clearance of contaminated land and destruction of remaining stockpiles of cluster munitions.

The "Oslo Process"

The cluster munitions ban process, also known as the "Oslo Process," began in February 2007 in Oslo, Norway. At this time, 46 nations issued the "Oslo Declaration (PDF)." Subsequently, the Oslo Process held meetings in Lima in May 2007 and Vienna in December 2007. In February 2008, 79 countries adopted the "Wellington Declaration (PDF)", setting forth the principles to be included in the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Delegates from 107 nations agreed to the final draft of the treaty (PDF) at the end of a ten-day meeting held in May 2008 in Dublin.

The Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons

The United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW - PDF), concluded in Geneva on October 10, 1980 and entered into force in December 1983. It seeks to prohibit or restrict the use of certain conventional weapons which are considered excessively injurious or whose effects are indiscriminate such as cluster munitions. All CCW States parties meet annually at a Meeting of the States parties to review the status and operation of the Convention and its protocols, and to consider the work done by the Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) which was established in 2001. Watch "Before The Blast" documentary film about the CCW Protocol V.  For more information on the CCW, visit the United Nations Office at Geneva site.