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

Islamic State Survivor: A Yazidi Girl's Tale

Sarah Said Haydar, captured a year ago while fleeing Islamic State onslaught in northern Iraq, was so traumatized by militants, she sought to end her own life More

EU, US Applaud Kosovo Law on Special Court

Joint statement says lawmakers' decision to address allegations of war crimes 'demonstrated their commitment to the rule of law and to honor international agreements' More

ASEAN Ministers to Push for S. China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Tradei
X
Robert Carmichael
August 04, 2015 3:07 PM
Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Trade

Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Growing Number of E. Jerusalem Palestinians Seek Israeli Citizenship

Most Palestinians living in East Jerusalem have long rejected the option of full Israeli citizenship, seeing it as a betrayal to their political cause - the formation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. But as that dream remains elusive, more and more Palestinians are applying for Israeli citizenship. Zlatica Hoke reports the decision is hard for many Palestinians who say they have to be pragmatic about it.
Video

Video With No Money, More Students, African Universities Struggle

Academics from around the African continent converged in Johannesburg last week for the African Universities Summit, a chance to tackle some of the major issues facing higher education in Africa today. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Wisconsin's Voter ID Law Still Mired In Controversy

Voter ID laws have sparked controversy across the US. More than 30 states enacted laws requiring citizens to show identification before they vote. Against fierce opposition, the state of Wisconsin recently enacted one the most restrictive voter ID laws in country. As Jeff Swicord reports, no one can predict its impact as the 2016 election nears.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Hailed as Highly Effective

At last, there's a way to end the suffering from the Ebola epidemic that has ravaged West Africa for more than a year. Researchers say the vaccine is so effective, there may never be a major outbreak of Ebola again. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs