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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs