Library of Congress

Law Library of Congress

The Library of Congress > Law Library > News & Events > Global Legal Monitor

International: Cluster Munitions Convention in Effect

(Aug. 9, 2010) On August 1, 2010, the Convention on Cluster Munitions came into force (text available from the Convention website, http://
(last visited Aug. 2, 2010)). Adopted in Dublin, Ireland, on May 30, 2008, and signed several months later in Oslo, Norway, on December 3, the Convention has been ratified by 38 countries. The first meeting of the parties to the treaty will be held in November 2010 in Vientiane, Laos. (Convention on Cluster Munitions, (last visited Aug. 2, 2010); see also Constance A. Johnson, Cluster Munitions Treaty to Take Effect, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (Feb. 19, 2010), http://

The Convention prohibits the use, stockpiling, production, and transfer of all cluster bombs, which are weapons that come apart into large numbers of smaller explosive components that can spread out before detonating. In addition, the treaty calls for the supplies of such weapons to be eliminated and unexploded bombs to be cleared in the next ten years. These weapons are considered to be especially hazardous for civilians. (Erin Bock, Cluster Munitions Treaty Goes into Effect, PAPER CHASE NEWSBURST (Aug. 1, 2010), http://

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, speaking about the treaty's coming into force, said it was “a major advance for the global disarmament and humanitarian agendas.” In addition to expressing his pleasure that the Convention came into force in just over two years after its adoption, Ban stated: “[t]his highlights not only the world's collective revulsion at these abhorrent weapons, but also the power of collaboration among governments, civil society and the United Nations to change attitudes and policies on a threat faced by all humankind.” (UN Hails Entry into Force of Global Pact Banning Cluster Munitions, UN NEWS CENTRE (July 30, 2010), http://</s

Amnesty International called the Convention a “crucial step towards protecting civilians, during and after armed conflict, from this cruel and indiscriminate weapon.” The organization urged all nations that have not yet done so to sign and implement the treaty, comparing it to the 1997 pact on land mines. (Cluster Bomb Ban Treaty Takes Effect Worldwide, Amnesty International website (Aug. 1, 2010), http://
.) In recent weeks, both Norway and Moldova have destroyed their cluster munitions, and the United Kingdom has begun the process. (PAPER CHASE NEWSBURST, supra.)

The United States, which has the world's largest stockpile of these weapons, has not signed the treaty, arguing that a ban on the weapons would hurt humanitarian work by discouraging cooperation between countries that have and have not signed. The U.S. policy, adopted in June 2008, is designed to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure following a conflict, while allowing for the retention of what is considered to be “a legitimate and useful weapon.” (Id.; Memorandum, U.S. Secretary of Defense, DoD Policy on Cluster Munitions and Unintended Harm to Civilians (June 19, 2008), http://