The Convention of Cluster Munitions Treaty Analysis

Introduction

Weapons that open in mid-air and disband smaller submunitions into an area are known as cluster munitions. The smaller submunitions dispersed when cluster munitions open in mid-air range anywhere from a few dozens to hundreds (Riordan, 2014). The military often use cluster munitions as a defense mechanism against their enemies due to three reasons. First, many targets in an area can be killed by only one cluster munition at a time. Second, cluster munitions can be used by few soldiers to attack a large group of enemies and it is for this reason that they are often referred to as “economy of force” weapons. Third, many cluster munitions require simple mechanical fuzes to explode and bring about the desired impact (Feickert and Kerr, 2014). When cluster munitions are used to attack the enemy, there is always high confidence that anyone in the target zone will either be severely wounded or killed. They are highly suitable for use in hunting elusive enemies in unfriendly terrain because they do not require users to pin-point accuracy (Riordan, 2014).

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As many countries continued to use cluster munitions to attack their enemies, many people began to criticize these weapons based on their impacts on infrastructure and members of the general public. Some people claimed that cluster munitions disperse smaller submunitions over a large area thereby causing damage to infrastructure. Others argued that cluster munitions often fail to detonate and are hard to locate once they fall on the ground. According to Feickert and Kerr (2014), many people criticize cluster munitions on the basis that they can remain explosive hazards for quite a number of years, especially if the ones that fail to detonate go undetected. Additionally, cluster munitions harm civilians due to inaccurate landing on populated areas or when people move to areas where they were placed but failed to explode (Feickert and Kerr, 2014). As the impacts of cluster munitions became more obvious, international campaign was started to completely ban their use, leading to the formation of a security treaty known as The Convention on Cluster Munitions.

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This paper analyzes The Convention of Cluster Munitions treaty with reference to United States Security and International safety. The paper begins by describing the history of the treaty as well as its conditions and elements. This is followed by a description of the relationship between the treaty’s elements and the current security of the United States. The paper also analyzes the future of the treaty and describes the relationship between its elements and the future security of the United States. The final section of the paper highlights the recommendations for changing The Convention of Cluster Munitions to what best benefits the international community and the United States.

History of the Convention on Cluster Munitions Treaty

The Convention on Cluster Munitions, also known as the Oslo Treaty, is an international security treaty that provides a categorical prohibition and a framework for action against cluster munitions on the basis of their unacceptable harm to civilians as well as the humanitarian consequences that they cause. The Convention on Cluster Munitions was created when nations began to assess the legitimacy of weapons with the aim of creating a balance between safety for humanity and military necessity as explained in the Saint Petersburg Declaration. The first objection to cluster munition arises from the idea that they have the ability to harm both combatants and civilians alike. Additionally, cluster munitions leave behind large undetonated remnants which act as hazards to civilians for a prolonged period of time. The damaging effects of cluster munitions attracted international concern which made several nations to begin the journey towards their prohibition (Riordan, 2014).

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Negotiations that resulted into the Convention on Cluster Munitions treaty were initiated in 2007, a move that was led by Norway. An agreement to ban cluster munitions was reached on May 30, 2008 in Dublin, Ireland. The adopted treaty was later signed on December 3-4, 2008 in Oslo, Norway. A total of 94 states signed the convention with Germany, France, and the United Kingdom being among them. Certain countries neither participated in the talks nor signed the agreement. These countries include Pakistan, Egypt, India, the United States, Israel, China, and Russia. On August 1, 2010, the Convention on Cluster Munitions entered into force as agreed during the signing (Feickert and Kerr, 2014).

The Convention on Cluster Munitions prohibits the usage, development, acquisitions, transfer, and stockpiling of cluster munitions. Since the international concern that led to the Convention was based on the fact that cluster munitions may strike the combatants and civilians alike, and that some of them remain undetonated for prolonged periods of time, the convention excludes certain types of cluster munitions. According to Feickert and Kerr (2014), the Convention on Cluster Munitions does not prohibit those weapons that engage a single target as well as those that are equipped with an electronic self-destruction feature. This exemption permits the use of sensor-fuzed cluster submunitions. The Convention on Cluster Munitions was meant to improve security of civilians of alls state parties, but one issue that may raise questions is why certain nations such as the United States did not sign the agreement. According to Feickert and Kerr (2014), the United States officials did not support the Convention on Cluster Munitions claiming that the new version allowed state and non-state parties to engage in military cooperation and operation, unlike the earlier version. This prohibition is stated in Article 21, Paragraph 3 of the Convention (Convention on Cluster Munitions, 2008).

Conditions and elements of the treaty

The conditions and elements of the Convention on Cluster Munitions define the rules that state parties must follow with reference to usage, production, distribution, acquisition, transfer, and stockpile of cluster munitions. Article 1 of the Convention describes the obligations that state parties are required to meet. As presented in Article 1 of the Convention, state parties are prohibited from using, developing, producing, transferring, and stockpiling of cluster munitions. Additionally, the Convention warns state parties against assisting anyone to engage in the prohibited activities as defined in Article 1. These proscriptions apply to both non-international and international armed conflict (Riordan, 2014).

State parties are expected to effectively understand the scope of the Convention on Cluster Munitions to avoid legal liabilities. As indicated in Article 2, when the Convention talks of cluster munitions, it refers to any non-nuclear munitions meant to disperse explosive submunitions of any weigh below 20 kilograms. This consideration is made irrespective of the generation and reliability of the munitions, as well as the method used to disperse them. Under this article, certain types of munitions escape the prohibitions highlighted in the Convention on Cluster Munitions. The munitions excluded from the Convention are advanced weapons designed to destroy armored vehicles, those that are equipped with self-destruction mechanisms, munitions designed for air defense, and those that produce electronic effects. These munitions escape the prohibition because they do not produce the indiscriminate area effects and humanitarian concerns addressed in the Convention (Riordan, 2014).

The Convention on Cluster Munitions states the time limit for destruction of cluster munitions by state parties. By the time the Convention came into force, the States who became early parties did not have cluster munitions. However, many states that became parties to the Convention thereafter had cluster munitions which are most deployed when mixed with other munitions. As stated in Article 3, any State that joins the Convention is expected to destroy its cluster munitions as first as possible, usually within a period of eight years after becoming a member. Prior to destruction, the munitions must be separated out and marked for easy identification and to ensure that other important weapons are not affected. Parties are allowed an extension of up to four years before they can completely destroy their cluster munitions but only with relevant reasons. During destruction, state parties are expected to use methods that comply with applicable international standards for protecting the environment and public health. Additionally, state parties are allowed to retain small amounts of cluster munitions for training in detection and destruction such weapons. However, in order to prevent stockpiling, parties are warned against retaining more cluster munitions than absolutely necessary (Convention on Cluster Munitions, 2008).

One of the most important elements of the Convention on Cluster Munitions is that relating to clearance and destruction of remnants described in Article 4. All parties are expected to clean-up all the deadly refuse that might remain in its territory after an attack by its enemy. The areas must be assessed and any remnants found be destroyed as per the international standards within a period of ten years. Additionally, civilians must also be educated on the risks that are likely to result from the remnants. Moreover, States that have abandoned their cluster munitions in the territory of another state are expected to provide financial, material, human resource, and technical support to the affected state to facilitate clearance and destruction (Convention on Cluster Munitions, 2008).

The Convention on Cluster Munitions documents how state parties should handle civilians who have been affected by cluster munitions. Under Article 5, state parties are obliged to provide assistance to victims who have been impacted by cluster munitions as well as their relatives. As stated in the Convention, state parties must provide medical care, psychological support, and rehabilitation to all victims and families of cluster munitions. These services must be offered to civilians of all age groups, gender, economic classes, and race without discrimination. As a way of preparation, state parties must develop a national plan with a clear budget for taking care of civilians who might be impacted by cluster munitions (Convention on Cluster Munitions, 2008).

In order to relieve state parties of the burden stated in Article 3, 4 and 5, Article 6 highlights that there should be international cooperation and assistance among state parties affected by cluster munitions. Parties should assist one another on activities such as remnant clearance and destruction, as well as on education of civilians on potential risks. This obligation also applies to provision of resources required for stockpile destruction and for economic recovery, not forgetting victim assistance (Riordan, 2014). Under Article 6, State parties are also obliged to provide emergency assistance to one another suppose their enemies strike using cluster munitions. Urgent emergency assistance can be provided through organizations such as the United Nations system, non-governmental organizations, international, national, or regional organizations (Convention on Cluster Munitions, 2008).

Under Article 7, state parties must present their transparency measures to the United Nations as far as implementation of the Convention is concerned. The United Nation must receive treaty implementation reports from state parties 180 days after acquiring membership and then annually. Furthermore, parties are free to seek clarification from one another regarding implementation of the Convention. Under Article 8, parties are allowed to consult the United Nations Secretary General on the appropriate measures governing treaty implementation. State parties must abide by the national administrative and legal measures when implementing the Convention as specified in Article 9. Example of national implementation measure includes imposing legal sanctions on people found to engage in prohibited activities (Convention on Cluster Munitions, 2008).

States parties are obliged to have annual meetings and review conferences as stated in Article 11 and 12 respectively. Article 13 of the provision permits the parties to make amendment proposals while Article 21 defines the relationship between state and non-state parties (Convention on Cluster Munitions, 2008). All parties have a duty to encourage non-parties to avoid using cluster munitions and even lure them to join the Convention. In addition, the Convention allows state and non-state parties to engage in military cooperation and operation. The conditions and elements of the Convention on Cluster Munitions described in this paper tend to guide States parties on what they should do to completely avoid using cluster munitions. For this reason, these conditions and elements are very important to the present and future security of States parties and for international security cooperation (Riordan, 2014).

The conditions and elements of the Convention on Cluster Munitions treaty in relation to the current security of the United States

The United States is among those states that has not joined the Convention on Cluster Munitions. The United States officials claim that it cannot meet the conditions and elements of the Convention because cluster munitions form a very important part of its defense strategy (Feickert and Kerr, 2014). By banning cluster munitions, it will be compelled to pursue other technologies that can only offer short-term security. Additionally, the United States officials maintain that they will not join the Convention on Cluster Munitions because this will reduce the number of weapons that the country uses to defend its enemies, and that elimination of cluster munitions will require additional finances to purchase other types of weapons. Furthermore, these officials are concerned that if cluster munitions are eliminated, the military will be compelled to increase the use of rocket barrages and massed artillery that cause even more severe damage to infrastructure. Generally, the United States is worried that the Convention on Cluster Munitions undermines national security interest (Feickert and Kerr, 2014). However, by declining to join the Convention on Cluster Munitions, the United States is putting the lives of civilians at risk, considering the fact that majority of its adversaries are striking using cluster munitions.

The United States is in constant fights with countries such as Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Canada, Yemen, Albania, and many other countries. Terrorists from several countries across the world target the United States, and it is highly likely that they will always strike using cluster munitions (Cluster Munition Monitor 2015). When United States enemies attack using cluster munitions, there will be high confidence that anyone in the target zone will either be severely wounded or killed. Furthermore, since the cluster munitions used by United States enemies are not equipped with self-explosive features, they will always remain undetonated for prolonged periods of time, thereby becoming a hazard to civilians (Cluster Munition Monitor 2015). As the United States continues to oppose the Convention on Cluster Munitions, it continues to cause unacceptable harm and severe humanitarian consequences to civilians.

In view of the current security of the United States, the country should consider joining the Convention on Cluster Munitions even if it feels that it has large stockpiles of weapons that might require a lot of time and resources to eliminate. The United States should understand that Article 3 of the Convention on Cluster Munitions gives states parties up to a period of eight years to destroy their cluster munition stockpiles. Additionally, parties are allowed to request for an extension of up to four years if they cannot destroy their stockpiles within the stipulated eight years. Again, the United States needs to understand that by becoming a state party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, it will receive assistance from other states parties with destruction of stockpiles as stated in Article 6 of the Convention (Human Rights Watch, 2009).

Notably, the United States is also reluctant to join the Convention on Cluster Munitions claiming that it allows states parties to provide military support to non-state parties. The United States should give the safety of its citizens a priority when making a decision as to whether it should join the Convention or not. Article 21 of the Convention specifies that states parties will provide military cooperation to non-state parties. Even as these parties do so, they must abide by the requirements of Article 1 which says that states parties will not support non-state parties to use, distribute, or stockpile cluster munitions. This indicates that Article 21 does not render Article 1 ineffective, and the United States should use every means possible to join the Convention on Cluster Munitions in order to prevent humanitarian consequences that result from cluster munitions (Human Rights Watch, 2009).

Future of the treaty

The Convention on Cluster Munitions will be very necessary and in fact enforceable in future. Cluster Munitions were first designed for use in the Cold War, and their use by the military in modern warfare is very minimal. Today’s war takes place in open places often occupied or visited by civilians, and where there are high risks of human harm. It is anticipated that countries will continue to fight their enemies in the open using cluster munitions, thereby posing great risks to civilians. It is therefore evident that the Convention on Cluster Munitions will be very necessary in future, and states parties are expected to comply with its conditions and elements to facilitate easy implementation (Human Rights Watch, 2009).

Moreover, the shelf life of many cluster munitions is narrowing with time and they will soon be unsafe for use. When the munitions reach the end of their shelf life, they will explode spontaneously causing serious harm to civilians. The fact that the shelf life of cluster munitions is approaching calls for a great need for the implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions’ obligations (Human Rights Watch, 2009). According to Cluster Munition Coalition (2014), more than 50 percent of the states parties of the Convention on Cluster Munitions have destroyed their cluster munitions. Additionally, many countries that have suffered the impacts of cluster munitions have joined the Convention to prevent future harm associated with these weapons, and even more states are continuing to join. This is a clear indication that the Oslo Treaty will still be necessary and enforceable in future (Cluster Munition Coalition, 2014).

The conditions and elements of the treaty in relation to the future security of the United States

The security of civilians in the United States will continue to be at risk even in future bearing in mind that the country’s military still uses cluster munitions as its military weapons. Again, the fact that United States enemies are still highly likely to strike the country in future using cluster munitions indicates that civilians’ health will continue to be at risk. This explains why the conditions and elements of the Convention on Cluster Munitions will be of great significance to the future security of the United States (Cluster Munition Monitor 2015). Therefore, the United States should join the Convention and comply with its requirements in order to keep civilians safe as other states parties are doing.

Suppose the United States joins the Convention for the purpose of its future security, it must understand all the condition and elements of the treaty and apply them as required. For instance, the United States will have to pay attention to Article 2 of the Convention in order to understand the scope of the convention. Additionally, the United States will have to go through Article 3 to understand what the Convention says regarding storage and stockpile destruction. Basically, the United States will have to be conversant with all the articles of the Convention in order to improve national security in future by eliminating all sorts of humanitarian consequences that might result from cluster munitions (Convention on Cluster Munitions, 2008).

Recommendations

The Convention on Cluster Munitions is a very good treaty that aims at minimizing humanitarian consequences resulting from cluster munitions. Even though several states around the world have joined the treaty, some states are still reluctant to join due to one reason or another. These reasons are mostly associated with the content of the Convention. Since the Convention on Cluster Munitions is an international security treaty, it is important to make some changes to it to make it benefit the international community and the United States. According to Cluster Munition Coalition, some terms of the Convention on Cluster Munitions might be the subject of conflicting interpretations made by different states. Therefore, the kind of change that the Convention on Cluster Munitions requires might not necessarily be a direct change of its provisions, but merely detailed clarification of its conditions and elements to avoid misinterpretation by states.

For instance, further clarification on transit of cluster munitions will help different states to understand this element and make appropriate decision on whether to join the treaty or not. The term ‘transfer’ used in article 2 of the Convention does not provide any clear directive to the states on what exactly they are supposed to do and that which they are prohibited from doing. The definition of transfer of cluster munitions should be made to specify the locality or region within which movement of such weapons is not allowed. It should be made to state that transit of cluster munitions across or through national territory is not allowed (Cluster Munition Coalition).

Additionally, Article 1(c) does not explicitly show the type of investment that is prohibited by the treaty. States should understand that the Convention prohibits states parties from investing in producers of cluster munitions. Again definition of Article 2 (c) needs further clarification to avoid confusion that it brings to readers. The weapons stated in this provision do not cause similar effects as cluster munitions. The criteria in Article 2 (c) should be reviewed by States parties to ensure that it can maximally promote civilian protection (Cluster Munition Coalition).

The Oslo treaty is also not clear on the exact amount of cluster munitions that should be retained for training by state parties. The Convention only states that states parties should not retain more than is absolutely necessary yet this might be interpreted differently by various states. State parties should hold a meeting in order to review this provision, clearly stating the exact amount of cluster munitions that is being referred to as minimum. This will help to guard against stockpiling of cluster munitions in the name of retaining them for training. Another element of the Oslo treaty that needs clarification is the interoperability among states parties. The Convention needs to highlight the exact activities that states parties must not assist non-states parties to do. By making these clarifications, many states that are still unable to join the Convention due to misinterpretation of its elements will now see the need of becoming party to it (Cluster Munition Coalition).

Conclusion

            Although the United States has not joined the Convention on Cluster Munitions, this treaty is very effective and sufficient in relation to its ability to promote homeland security and international cooperation. It is due to the treaty’s effectiveness that it has been able to attract more than 100 nations from every region of the world to become parties. Since the Convention on Cluster Munitions came into force on 1st August 2010, many states that have been affected by cluster munitions have joined the treaty with the aim of preventing similar impacts in future. The conditions and elements of the Convention define the rules that all states parties are expected to follow in order to maintain peaceful coexistence with other members. These conditions and elements are application to both current and future security of the United States and other nations internationally. Consequently, there is great need to assist all nations across the world to understand all provisions of the Oslo treaty in order to enable them make appropriate decisions concerning whether they should join the Convention or not.

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