GENEVA - A report by the Cluster Munition Coalition finds significant progress has been made in stigmatizing and eliminating these weapons since the global treaty banning cluster munitions came into force 10 years ago.
Activists note that over the past decade, 1.5 million cluster bombs containing more than 178 million bomblets have been destroyed. This represents 99% of all stocks declared by the 110 state parties to the treaty.
The director of Human Rights Watch's Arms Division, Stephen Goose, says no state party to the convention has used or produced cluster munitions for the past 10 years.
However, during this period, he says the Cluster Munition Monitor has documented the sporadic use of these weapons by eight countries that have not signed the treaty.
He says Syria has used cluster munitions without stop since 2012.
"We have documented more than 686 cluster munition attacks in Syria since July of 2012," said Goosei. "This is the real black spot on the issue of cluster munitions around the world, with the degree to which Syria, with great assistance from Russia has been a regular user of cluster munitions."
The Monitor reports cluster bombs were used by Libya and Syria in 2019. This year, it notes the use of these weapons by Syria and by Armenia and Azerbaijan in the recent conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh.
The Monitor has identified at least 4,315 cluster munition casualties in 20 countries and other areas during the past decade, although the real total is probably higher. Editor and research leader of the Monitor Loren Persi says more than 80% of the global casualties have been recorded in Syria, with children accounting for half of them.
"One of the things to keep in mind is that the success of the convention is such that apart from this use in Syria, the number of casualties in most affected countries from the remnants of cluster munitions has actually been decreasing significantly over this period from hundreds of casualties recorded in some countries, particularly in Laos the most affected," said Persi.
Persi says Laos has reported just five casualties this year. He calls this a milestone and a sign of the ban treaty's great success in preventing casualties from cluster munitions globally.