Cluster munitions - Oslo Convention

 

The Convention

The Oslo Convention on cluster munitions was signed in 2008 and entered into force two years later. The Convention currently counts 110 States Parties. The Convention prohibits the use and the production of cluster munitions and requires the States Parties to:

  • destroy their stockpiles
  • clear the contaminated areas within given delays
  • provide assistance to the victims of cluster munitions

Cluster munitions are designed to disperse or release explosive sub-munitions each weighing less than 20 kilograms. The humanitarian consequences of cluster munitions are disastrous for two reasons:

  • indiscriminate effect: during an attack, an entire area can be contaminated without a distinction made between civilians and military targets.  
  • effects of cluster munitions remnants on post-conflict situations: after hostilities have ended, explosive remnants remain in the ground, that can kill or wound civilians. These unexploded munitions hinder the return of the residents and the resumption of social and economic activities.  

 

Belgian policy

Cluster munitions were used in World War II and during various other military operations. The legitimacy of their use has more and more come under discussion, because of the unacceptable suffering to civilians.

In 2006 Belgium was the first country to ban cluster munitions in its legislation. The Weapons Law places cluster munitions, as well as anti-personnel mines, in the category of prohibited weapons.

Belgium actively participated in the international negotiations on these weapons that were launched in 2006. The Belgian negotiation objectives were largely met: a legally binding international instrument was approved, supported by a large group of countries, including countries producing and possessing these weapons. The Convention also has several practical provisions on organizing victim assistance in an efficient way. 

Belgium is committed to the universalization and the full implementation of the Convention. Moreover, Belgium provides financing to organizations that are active in mine action in the field. The document Belgian approach to mine action describes the principles of the Belgian policy.