- Parliamentary Assembly
adopted by the Standing Committee, acting on behalf of
the Assembly, on 29 May 2009 (see Doc. 11909, report of the Political Affairs Committee, rapporteur:
Mr Pflug; Doc. 11925, opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights,
rapporteur: Mr Haibach; and Doc.
11929, opinion of the Committee on Migration, Refugees and
Population, rapporteur: Mrs Curtis-Thomas). See also Recommendation 1871 (2009).
1 Cluster munitions,
due to their conception, cannot distinguish between civilians and
military objectives. In 2006, a survey by Handicap International
of countries and regions affected by cluster munitions found that 98%
of recorded cluster munitions casualties were civilians. In fact,
cluster munitions pose both an immediate and long-term danger to
civilians due to three main characteristics: their wide-area impact,
their inaccuracy and their unreliability.
2 Cluster munitions consist of a large container that opens
in the air and disperses smaller explosive submunitions over a wide
area. Although the majority of submunitions are designed to explode
on, or shortly after, impact, a high proportion of submunitions
fail to explode as intended. As each cluster munition can contain
hundreds of submunitions, vast numbers can be dispersed in a very
short period of time. The result is that massive amounts of unexploded
ordnance remain on the ground and leave behind a devastating legacy that
will persist for years after the conflict has ended.
3 Furthermore, the ground contamination from unexploded cluster
submunitions has serious socio-economic consequences for individuals
and communities. When unexploded munitions litter agricultural lands, or
vital infrastructure and buildings, they may hamper the supply of
basic necessities, including food, water and fuel, and hinder access
to public services such as schools and hospitals.
4 Millions of cluster munitions containing billions of submunitions
are still stockpiled in the arsenals of many countries today. If
they should spread to an ever-increasing number of countries and
actors, whose capacity and will to respect international humanitarian
law may vary, the consequences for civilians in future conflicts
may be devastating. The Parliamentary Assembly considers that the
cluster munitions problem must therefore be tackled urgently, before
these weapons are further deployed and the problem becomes even worse
than it is today.
5 Despite consistent efforts by humanitarian organisations and
some states to put this issue on the international agenda, it has
only recently received serious attention from the international
6 The use of cluster munitions during the armed conflict in
Lebanon, in the summer of 2006, brought renewed public and political
attention to the humanitarian consequences of cluster munition use.
Following extensive media coverage on the impact of cluster munitions
on the civilian population in southern Lebanon, as well as renewed
calls for action by the United Nations, the International Committee
of the Red Cross (ICRC) and many non-governmental organisations,
a growing number of countries have engaged in both national and international
initiatives to tackle the problem.
7 In February 2007, the Norwegian Government launched an international
diplomatic process to negotiate a treaty prohibiting cluster munitions,
which “cause unacceptable harm to civilians” . The so-called Oslo Process
resulted in the adoption of a Convention on Cluster Munitions by
107 states in Dublin, on 30 May 2008.
8 The Assembly warmly welcomes the adoption of this historic
treaty, which provides a comprehensive response to the cluster munitions
problem by prohibiting their use, production, stockpiling and transfer; requiring
the destruction of existing stocks; and establishing a framework
for co-operation and assistance to address their humanitarian consequences
in areas already affected.
9 With this convention, the participating states have confirmed
that cluster munitions, which have caused so much loss in past decades,
are not only morally reprehensible, but are now considered illegal.
This achievement demonstrates that the world has been moved by the
suffering of the victims of cluster munitions and that the international
community is capable of taking effective action to prevent such
suffering in the future.
10 The convention was opened for signature at a ceremony in Oslo
on 3 December 2008 and will enter into force six months after 30
states have ratified it. For the time being, 96 states have signed
it and only 6 have ratified it, namely Austria, Ireland, the Holy
See, Laos, Norway and Sierra Leone. The Assembly considers that the
most urgent priority is therefore to encourage all states to sign
and ratify the treaty in order to ensure its rapid entry into force
and subsequent implementation. Only by doing so can states prevent
the cluster munitions problem from continuing to grow and reduce
the number of new victims claimed by these weapons each year.
11 In this context, the Assembly strongly condemns the use of
cluster munitions – by both parties – during the August 2008 war
between Georgia and Russia. It urges Georgia and Russia to continue,
as a matter of urgency, to remove mines and unexploded ordnance
and to raise awareness among the affected population about the danger
posed by such devices.
12 Once states have become party to the Convention on Cluster
Munitions, national parliaments will have a key role to play, in
particular in establishing implementing legislation, including penal
sanctions for activities prohibited by the treaty.
13 Parliamentary action will be crucial to ensure allocation
of the resources needed for implementation, including the destruction
of stockpiles in those states possessing cluster munitions and for
the clearance and destruction of abandoned or unexploded cluster
munitions in areas under the state’s jurisdiction or control. The necessary
resources and structures must also be put in place to provide, in
accordance with international humanitarian law, adequate medical
care, rehabilitation and psychological support to cluster munitions
victims and to ensure their social and economic inclusion. These
cluster munitions victims include all persons who have been killed
or suffered physical or psychological injury, economic loss, social
marginalisation or substantial impairment of their rights caused
by the use of cluster munitions. They include those persons directly
affected by cluster munitions, as well as their families and communities.
14 Under the new treaty, states parties in a position to do so
are required to provide technical, material and financial support
to assist other states parties that are affected by cluster munitions
in implementing the treaty.
15 The Parliamentary Assembly regrets that, while the new treaty
provides the only viable solution to eliminate weapons that have
caused tremendous civilian harm over several decades, a number of
states, including major military powers, did not participate in
its adoption and are unlikely to join the treaty in the short term.
In the interim, the Assembly considers that it will nevertheless
be important to ensure their adherence to, and implementation of,
other relevant legal norms pertaining to cluster munitions such
as Protocol V on Explosive Remnants of War (28 November 2003) to
the United Nations Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on
the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons which may be deemed to be
Excessively Injurious or to have Indiscriminate Effects (CCW). These
states are also in the process of examining alternative options for
regulating the use of cluster munitions, which – even if they fall
short of the prohibition contained in the new treaty – could contribute
to reducing their humanitarian consequences.
16 Where international forces (for example, the North Atlantic
Treaty Organization (NATO) or bodies created by or acting under
the delegated authority of the United Nations Security Council)
undertake de-mining and related activities, clear lines of command,
control, responsibility and accountability must be established.
Consequently, the Assembly urges the member states, states
holding observer status with the Organisation and states whose parliaments
hold observer status with the Assembly to:
17.1 make every necessary effort to bring about a total ban
on the manufacture, use, transfer and stockpiling of cluster munitions
17.2 immediately destroy the existing stocks of cluster munitions
in territories under their jurisdiction or control;
17.3 without further delay, if they have not already done so,
sign and ratify the Convention on Cluster Munitions;
17.4 apply criminal sanctions against the use of cluster munitions
in violation of the rules of international humanitarian law;
17.5 accept responsibility, for states which have used cluster
munitions, for the clearance of these munitions, and in particular,
keep accurate records of where such munitions have been used and undertake
to support de-mining activities by marking, identifying and reporting
on the location of cluster munitions sites, and in turn, to exchange
such information with all relevant stakeholders, in order to help clearance
efforts following conflicts;
17.6 contribute to rehabilitation and assistance programmes
for cluster munitions victims in Europe and the rest of the world
with a view to their social rehabilitation and re-entry into working
17.7 encourage the media to circulate relevant information
among populations exposed to the danger of cluster munitions and
run major awareness campaigns, aimed at children and other potential
victims, on a continuous basis, until no risk remains, in order
to avoid new victims;
17.8 raise their population’s awareness of the dangers of cluster
munitions and promote action in order to mobilise international
public opinion in respect of the harmful effects of cluster munitions.
The Assembly also urges the national parliaments of the aforementioned
18.1 encourage their
governments, if they have not already done so, to sign the Convention
on Cluster Munitions without further delay;
18.2 ratify the said convention;
18.3 introduce national legislation for a total ban on cluster
munitions in their territory or, as a first step towards a total
ban, introduce national measures to ban, suspend or take other restrictive
measures against cluster munitions, in particular concerning their
use, production and transfer, and impose criminal sanctions in relation
to these measures.
19 Until such time that states become party to the Convention
on Cluster Munitions, the Assembly urges them to sign and ratify
Protocol V of 28 November 2003 on Explosive Remnants of War to the
United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, as it
provides at least a partial response to the cluster munitions problem
by alleviating the dangers to civilians when these weapons have
20 The Assembly strongly opposes any attempt to bypass the Convention
on Cluster Munitions by developing an alternative legal instrument
– such as a draft protocol to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons
– that would merely regulate, but not ban, the use of cluster munitions.