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

Russia Names US NGO 'Undesirable'

Prosecutors determine activities of National Endowment for Democracy to be 'undesirable,' paving the way for it to be outlawed on Russian territory More

Erdogan Vows 'Anti-Terror' Campaign in Syria, Iraq

Erdogan expressed confidence the 'necessary steps' will be taken by NATO leaders, who will meet Tuesday at Turkey's request More

North Korea: 'No Interest at All' in Nuke Deal

Senior US envoy Sydney Seiler visits Beijing Tuesday for talks on how to revive the stalled six-party nuclear talks with North Korea More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Wini
X
July 28, 2015 12:21 AM
The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Obama Encourages Kenya to Fix Cultures of Corruption, Discrimination

President Barack Obama bid farewell to Kenya Sunday with a major speech at as stadium outside the capital Nairobi where he called on Kenyans to change the cultures of corruption and discrimination that can hold society back. VOA East Africa Correspondent Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video California Towns Welcome Special Olympics Athletes

Cities and towns in Southern California are greeting thousands of athletes who are arriving for Special Olympics, a competition for people with intellectual disabilities. The games will run from July 25th through August 2nd. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, where athletes from Namibia, Singapore and Tanzania got a rousing welcome from local residents.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.
Video

Video Hoverbike Flying Toward Reality

Another long-standing dream of many technological inventors is quickly approaching reality: U.S.- and British-based firms are cooperating in the development of an individual flying platform they call a hoverbike. They say it may revolutionize the concept of flying, including in the U.S. military. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video As Japan Expands Defense Role, Protests Follow

The Japanese government is moving forward with a controversial security bill that would authorize the military to fight abroad for the first time since World War II. Leaders say it is critical to defend against rising threats from China and North Korea. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Japan on the big changes ahead, and the opposition they are drawing.
Video

Video Replacing Poppies with Coffee in Myanmar

The remote mountains of Myanmar’s Shan state are home to the second-largest opium-producing region in the world. After a drop during the 2000s, production surged in the past eight years to feed an increasing demand for heroin in China. But farmers are now making less on the crop, and the U.N. is hoping many will make the switch to growing coffee. Daniel de Carteret reports for VOA from Taunggyi.

VOA Blogs