Cluster munitions are munitions that are launched, dropped, or fired from the ground, the air, or the sea and that disperse or release submunitions or bomblets. Because cluster bombs release many small bomblets over a wide area, they pose risks to civilians both during attacks and afterwards. Unexploded bomblets can kill or maim civilians and/or unintended targets long after a conflict has ended, and are costly to locate and remove. The 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions prohibits use, development, production, stockpiling, and transfer of cluster munitions, as defined. The 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) was adopted by 107 states on 30 May 2008 at a specially convened diplomatic conference Under the Convention, states parties must never under any circumstances use, develop, produce, acquire, stockpile, retain, or transfer cluster munitions. They are also generally prohibited from assisting, encouraging, or inducing anyone to undertake any activity prohibited by its provisions.
In accordance with its principle of disarmament, the Non-Aligned Movement has recognized the adverse humanitarian impact caused by the use of cluster munitions and expressed solidarity with the cluster munitions-affected countries. At the 16th Ministerial Meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement held in Bali in May 2011, Lao PDR and Lebanon cooperated to secure a language in the final declaration in the Convention on Cluster Declaration. In the following NAM Ministerial meeting held in Sharm-el Sheikh on May 7-10, 2012 produced a final document which recognised the adverse effects of cluster munitions. The final document of the 16th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement held in Tehran on 26–31 August 2012 “recognized the adverse humanitarian impact caused by the use of cluster munitions” and “noted the entry into force of the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 1 August 2010.
NAM has called upon all States in a position to do so, to consider providing the necessary financial, technical and humanitarian assistance to unexploded cluster munitions clearance operations, the social and economic rehabilitation of victims as well as to ensure full access of affected countries to material, equipment, technology and financial resources for unexploded cluster munitions clearance.
Non-Aligned Movement attaches great importance the UN General Assembly Resolution on 2 December 2014 on “Effects of the use of armaments and ammunitions containing depleted uranium”. The Resolution takes into consideration the “potential harmful effects of the use of armaments and ammunitions containing depleted uranium on human health and the environment” and then “encourages Member States in a position to do so to provide assistance to States affected by the use of arms and ammunitions containing depleted uranium, in particular in identifying and managing contaminated sites and material”.
Non-Aligned Movement has expressed concerns over the hazards of cluster munitions. At the thematic debate of the first committee on Cluster 4: Conventional Weapons, Indonesia, speaking on the behalf of Non-Aligned Movement stated that NAM recognized the need to promote the establishment and maintenance of international peace and security with the least diversion for armaments of the world’s human and economic resources.
Indonesia, on behalf of NAM further raised concern over significant imbalance in the production, possession and trade in conventional weapons between the industrialized and the Non-Aligned Countries, and called for a significant reduction in the production, possession and trade of conventional weapons by the industrialized States with a view to enhancing international and regional peace and security.
A number of NAM Member States have expressed their complete support to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
At the thematic debate of the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) held on 23 October 2014, Ecuador reiterated the country’s total support for the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
At the same debate, Thailand reiterated its commitment to adhere to the humanitarian principles enshrined in various conventions, including the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
On 16 and 17 September 2017, a South East Asia regional seminar on “Cooperating to implement the Convention on Cluster Munitions: the country coalition concept” at Bangkok, which was attended by representatives of 7 NAM Member States-Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
The efforts of Colombia, Afghanistan, Lao PDR and Lebanon were appreciated within the paradigms of the country coalitions concept to foster comprehensive implementation of the CCM through external cooperation.
By Dr. Pawan Mathur