Authors of theCluster Munition Monitor 2021report say great progress toward the elimination of these lethal weapons has been made since the Cluster Ban Treaty came into force in 2010.
The Monitor finds there has been no new use of cluster munitions by any of the 110 states that has joined the treaty, nor by the 13 states that have signed but not yet ratified it.
The report says the remaining problems lie with countries that remain outside the convention.
The most notable use of cluster munitions last year was by non-member states Armenia and Azerbaijan during their war over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The Monitor records 107 casualties from cluster munition attacks in Azerbaijan, the most in any country last year.
Syria has continuously used cluster munitions since 2012.
Human Rights Watch arms advocacy director Mary Wareham says use of the weapons in 2020 was greatly reduced compared to previous years.
She says another visible example of the treaty’s success is in the destruction of stockpiles.
“We know that at least 1.5 million cluster munitions and more than 178 million submunitions have been destroyed from stocks today,” said Wareham. “That goes to show that this convention is truly lifesaving because every single one of those explosive submunitions could take a life or a limb.”
Globally, the monitor has recorded at least 360 new cluster munition casualties in 2020, caused either from attacks or explosive remnants. The editor of the Monitor, Loren Persi, says children are the main victims of these weapons, which kill and maim civilians indiscriminately.
“Almost half of all casualties, 44 percent are children. About a quarter of casualties were women and girls,” said Persi. “But what we found in 2020 was that women and girls were far less likely to survive their incident with cluster munitions. This is something of concern that we will have to look into as more data becomes available.”
The report says many of the 16 countries outside the convention reserve the right to keep making cluster munitions, even though they currently are not doing so.
Authors of the report say they are concerned that China and Russia are actively researching, testing, and developing new types of cluster munitions.
China, Russia and the United States have not joined the convention. The three countries are among the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.