For more than half a century, cluster munitions have destroyed civilian lives and livelihoods. Cluster munitions, which are large weapons that disperse dozens or hundreds of smaller submunitions, pose two major humanitarian problems. The submunitions spread over a broad footprint, killing or injuring civilians during strikes. In addition, many of the submunitions do not explode on impact and endanger civilians, especially children, for months or years after an attack.
The 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions absolutely banned these weapons. It is a milestone in international law and has 108 signatories and more than 50 states parties. Work remains to be done, however, to persuade more states to join the convention and to implement it at a national level.
The Clinic has been involved in the campaign to ban cluster munitions since 2005, when it started an ongoing collaboration with Human Rights Watch. During a 2006 field mission, clinical students investigated Israel’s use of cluster munitions in south Lebanon. Students then participated actively in the 2007-2008 negotiations of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. They attended international conferences, produced advocacy papers on key provisions of the convention, and provided on-the-spot legal advice to campaigners. With the adoption of the Convention on Cluster Munitions in May 2008, students turned their attention to advocating for strong interpretation and national implementation.
The Clinic has co-published or contributed to many papers and reports on cluster munitions and the convention that bans them, including the following, all published by Human Rights Watch:
Staying True to the Ban on Cluster Munitions (June ’09)
Cluster Bombs Bill is a Law Full of Loopholes (The National Times, August 2011)