History

The Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) was adopted in Dublin on 30 May 2008 and opened for signature in Oslo on 3 December the same year. Concerns with the human suffering caused by such weapons had, however, been voiced as early as in the 1960s and 1970s.

In 1974, at the ICRC Diplomatic Conference on the Reaffirmation and Development of International Humanitarian Law Applicable in Armed Conflicts, a group of seven states presented a working paper proposing a ban on “one type of fragmentation weapons, namely, those which are primarily suited for use against personnel”. This initiative did not lead to a ban but laid the foundations for the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW). Five protocols have been developed under the CCW, but cluster munitions were not among the weapons that came to be regulated by them.

In the early 2000s, an attempt was made to negotiate a protocol on cluster munitions within the framework of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. By 2006, however, it was increasingly evident that this was failing, and a group of countries initiated what became known as the “Oslo Process”, following an invitation from Norway.

In late February 2007, 46 States signed the “Oslo Declaration on Cluster Munitions”, and thus committed themselves to concluding by the end of 2008 a legally binding international instrument that would “prohibit the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm to civilians.”

A little more than a year later, that legally binding instrument had been concluded. As had been the case with the process that lead to the adoption of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention a decade earlier, the Oslo Process was characterised by close cooperation between not only States, but also with international organisations and civil society actors. The presence of and vocal participation by survivors of cluster munitions throughout the entire process was another important characteristic that helped bring about a new convention in record time.

The Convention on Cluster Munitions entered into force on 1 August 2010, six months after the 30th instrument of ratification had been deposited. It is today an effective instrument of international law.