News / Africa

Cluster Munitions Treaty Hits Four-Year Mark

Cluster munitions can release hundreds of bomblets over a wide area. Not all explode after hitting the ground, posing a landmine-like danger. (CMC)
Cluster munitions can release hundreds of bomblets over a wide area. Not all explode after hitting the ground, posing a landmine-like danger. (CMC)

Multimedia

Audio
  • Listen to De Capua report on cluster munitions treaty

Joe DeCapua

August 1 is the fourth anniversary of the treaty banning cluster bombs. Supporters say stockpiles of the weapons are being destroyed in record numbers. However, they say the weapons have been used in Syria for the past two years.

Listen to De Capua report on cluster munitions treaty
Listen to De Capua report on cluster munitions treatyi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

Cluster munitions are designed to open in mid-air and release small explosives or bomblets – sometimes hundreds of them. Not all of them explode when they hit the ground and therein lies the hidden danger. They act like landmines, easily set off by touch. Many of the victims are civilians.

The Convention on Cluster Munitions bans all use, production, transfer and stockpiling of the weapons. It’s the same language used in the treaty banning landmines. The convention has led to the clearing of hundreds of square kilometers contaminated by bomblets. It also contains provisions for the care and rehabilitation of survivors and their communities.

Amy Little, campaign manager for the Cluster Munitions Coalition, said the treaty is working.

“Already 71 percent of the stockpiles of cluster munitions by states parties have been destroyed. And last year alone, that’s 27 million sub-munitions destroyed as a result of this treaty.”

She said most of the countries with victims of cluster munitions have joined the treaty

“The other impact of the treaty has been to stigmatize the use of the weapon and production. And, in effect, we’ve seen a massive reduction in the use of the weapon as a result of the treaty. The work is not done yet. And the ongoing use in Syria is a real concern and must stop.”

Little said cluster munitions have been used in 10 out of 14 governorates in Syria.

“Up until April we had recorded over 224 locations. And we now know this number is going to grow. We’ll know the more realistic figures when the Cluster Munitions Monitor 2014 is released in September,” she said.

Cluster munitions are reported to have contaminated Syrian schools, playgrounds, housing and roads.

Little said, “Places where you know and can predict that civilians are to be found. The problem with cluster munitions is that they can’t be targeted. They’re an indiscriminate weapon. Each cluster bomb strike can fall to an area the size of several football fields. Anyone underneath that strike is at severe risk of death or injury.”

Little described the weapons as unreliable with a failure rate of up to 30 percent. That leaves the unexploded bomblets scattered over wide areas.

The Cluster Munitions Coalition is investigating reports from earlier this year that the weapon was used in South Sudan.  It appears to be an isolated incident. The coalition is also following up on reports the weapon may have been used in Ukraine. Cluster munitions had been reported used in the Libyan conflict several years ago.

A total of 113 countries have signed or acceded to the convention. The coalition says 29 signatories are in the process of ratifying it.

“The USA unfortunately still remains outside of the treaty. It’s no longer using the weapon. But we still expect it to fall within the provisions of the treaty by destroying its stockpiles and ceasing production,” said Little

The U.S. has not joined the landmine treaty either. However, the Obama administration has taken steps to reduce the U.S. stockpile. In June, a conference was held in Maputo, Mozambique to assess the progress of the mine treaty. Ambassador Douglas Griffiths said the U.S. stopped producing or acquiring landmines. The U.S. has also played a major role in assisting in mine clearance.

As for the Cluster Munitions Treaty, Russia and China have not joined the convention yet either. 

You May Like

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

China to Open Stock Markets to Pension Funds

In unprecedented move, government to soon allow local pension funds to invest up to $94 billion in domestic shares More

1 Billion People Used Facebook on Single Day

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg praised the accomplishment in a posting on the social media site More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs