Statement on Stockpile Destruction to Convention on Cluster Munitions Intersessional Meeting

Human Rights Watch

As the Lausanne Political Declaration notes, putting an end to the harm caused by cluster munitions requires universal adherence as well as full and timely implementation.

Outside of the Convention, Russia is using newly manufactured cluster munitions as well as older ones long held in stockpile. China is also engaging in new production of cluster munitions, adding to its existing stocks, while the US still has not heeded calls to reverse a 2017 policy that opened the path for it to re-start production of cluster munitions.

Such moves by these major powers who stubbornly ignore appeals to align with and accede to the Convention on Cluster Munitions are disturbing, but they are the exceptions to the emerging norm that the convention is establishing against cluster munitions. They highlight the essential need for every state party to make their best efforts in every way possible to discourage other nations from engaging in activities prohibited by the convention, especially new use, production, transfer and stockpiling of cluster munitions.

States parties must also do their utmost to ensure that implementation proceeds apace as this demonstrates the saliency of the convention in providing the framework for eradicating cluster munitions.

Successful implementation of the convention can be seen in the 36 States Parties that have destroyed their stocks of cluster munitions. It is seen in the nearly 1.5 million stockpiled cluster munitions and 178 million submunitions that have been destroyed, accounting for the vast majority of stocks once held by States Parties.

However, this crucial aspect of convention’s work is not without its challenges. Since 2019, no State Party with cluster munition stocks remaining has completed their destruction. As we heard today, Bulgaria, Peru, and Slovakia have made progress in destroying their stocks, while South Africa has not started. It is highly disturbing, in particular since South Africa’s stock destruction deadline is next year, and we have had no updates from South Africa for the past five years.

We were pleased to hear Guinea-Bissau state that it does not have stocks, but questions still have not been resolved about whether Guinea knowingly possesses cluster munitions.

The Cluster Munition Coalition urges signatories to the Convention on Cluster Munitions Cyprus, Indonesia, and Nigeria to ratify without delay and provide information on the steps they are taking to destroy their stockpiled cluster munitions.

Finally, we call on the ten states that still retain cluster munitions for research and development purposes to reconsider that decision and destroy them. This would be in keeping with the vast majority of the convention’s states and the Cluster Munition Coalition, who see no need to retain live cluster munitions for such purposes.

In closing, we would like to take the opportunity to thank the Coordinators and the Analysis Group for their ongoing efforts to ensure timely implementation of Art. 3.

Thank you.

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