United States

Last Updated: 17 December 2012

Mine Ban Policy

Mine ban policy overview

Mine Ban Treaty status

Not a State Party

Pro-mine ban UNGA voting record

Abstained on Resolution 66/29 in December 2011, as in previous years

Participation in Mine Ban Treaty meetings

Attended as an observer the Eleventh Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty in November–December 2011 but did not attend the intersessional Standing Committee meetings in May 2012

Key developments

Mine policy review still underway


The United States of America (US) has not acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty. A review of US landmine ban policy was announced in November 2009 and was officially reported in 2011 and in April 2012 to be still continuing; the US Campaign to Ban Landmines said its understanding was that “the inter-agency deliberations have now concluded and the decision-making point has been reached.”[1] A decision is not expected until after the presidential election in November 2012.

In November 2011, a Department of State official informed States Parties, “The United States applauds the significant accomplishments to date by Parties to the Ottawa Convention in addressing the humanitarian impact of anti-personnel landmines.”[2]

The US was the first nation to call for the “eventual elimination” of antipersonnel mines in September 1994 and participated in the Ottawa Process that led to the creation of the treaty, but did not sign in 1997. The Clinton administration set the goal of joining in 2006. However, in 2004 the Bush administration announced a new policy that rejected the treaty and the goal of the US ever joining.[3] As mentioned above, in November 2009 the administration of President Barack Obama publicly acknowledged that a comprehensive review of US mine policy was underway.[4]

Until the Obama administration’s policy review is completed, the 2004 Bush policy remains in place, permitting the indefinite use of self-destructing, self-deactivating antipersonnel mines anywhere in the world. In accordance with the Bush policy, as of 31 December 2010 the US prohibits the use of antipersonnel mines that do not self-destruct and self-deactivate (sometimes called “persistent” or “dumb” mines) anywhere in the world, including in Korea.

The US cautioned in December 2009 that “it will take some time to complete” the policy review “given that we must ensure that all factors are considered, including possible alternatives to meet our national defense needs and security commitments to our friends and allies….”[5] According to then-National Security Advisor General James L. Jones, the purpose of the review is “to specifically examine the costs and benefits that would be involved in a decision to accede to the Ottawa Treaty.”[6]

During 2010, the Department of State coordinated a series of interagency meetings with stakeholders, including NGOs. The administration also reached out to US political and military allies, including States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty, for input into the policy review. In 2011, the pace of the review slowed, but in November 2011, the US stated that “the review is active and ongoing, and we are making real progress.” It thanked the “international organizations, non-governmental organizations, think tanks, former U.S. government officials, and other states – both Parties to the Ottawa Convention and those that are not” and stated that “the input we received from these consultations is being taken into account as part of our review.”[7]

There have been examples of inconsistent policy statements by US agencies and officials on the status of the policy review and the US position on joining the Mine Ban Treaty.[8] In April 2012, after US Ambassador Susan Rice and the State Department both described reports of Syria’s use of antipersonnel mines on its borders as “horrific,” Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged the US to follow-up on the rebuke by completing the policy review and joining the Mine Ban Treaty.[9]

Since the US participated in the Second Review Conference in November 2009, it has continued to attend Mine Ban Treaty meetings as an observer.[10] The US attended the Eleventh Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty in Phnom Penh, Cambodia in November–December 2011 where it made statements on universalization and cooperation and assistance.[11] The US attended intersessional Standing Committee meetings in Geneva in June 2011, but not in May 2012.[12]

On 2 December 2011, the US abstained from voting on UN General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 66/29 in December 2011 calling for universalization and full implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty, as it had in previous years. It was one of only 18 nations to abstain.

More than two-thirds of the US Senate wrote to President Obama in May 2010 to state strong support for the ban on antipersonnel mines and expressed confidence that, “through a thorough, deliberative review the Administration can identify any obstacles to joining the Convention and develop a plan to overcome them as soon as possible.”[13] On 30 November 2010, 16 Nobel Peace Prize laureates sent a letter to President Obama urging a US decision to join the Mine Ban Treaty.[14] On 8 September 2010, the presidents of more than a dozen leading health associations wrote to President Obama calling on the US to join the Mine Ban Treaty.[15] 

On 1 March 2011, the 12th anniversary of the entry into force of the Mine Ban Treaty, the ICBL continued its outreach campaign which was launched one year prior to encourage US accession to the treaty.[16] Campaigners requested visits with over 60 US embassies worldwide, resulting in 35 meetings between US officials and ICBL representatives.[17]

On 18 April 2012, the US Campaign to Ban Landmines sent a letter signed by the leaders of 76 NGOs to President Obama expressing their appreciation of “the thoroughness with which the review has apparently been conducted,” but also their dismay “at the lengthy period of time involved.” The letter “strongly” encourages President Obama to “make a decision on future U.S. landmine policy as soon as possible” and “announce that the United States will accede to the Mine Ban Treaty.”[18]

The US is a party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) and its Amended Protocol II on landmines and Protocol V on explosive remnants of war. It submitted its annual national report for Amended Protocol II on 30 March 2012, as required under Article 13, and a national annual report for Protocol V on 6 July 2011, as required by Article 10.

A 2009 US Department of State cable made public by Wikileaks in August 2011 showed how the US worked in 1997 to convince Pacific nations not to join the Mine Ban Treaty.[19]

Use, transfer, production, and stockpiling

The last known US use of antipersonnel mines was in 1991.[20] There were reports in 2009 and 2010 of US forces in Afghanistan using Claymore directional fragmentation mines.[21] However, these munitions are not prohibited under the Mine Ban Treaty if used in command-detonated mode.[22]

In February 2012, US officials confirmed implementation of the 2004 policy directive to end the use of so-called persistent (non-self-destructing) mines by the end of 2010. [23] In its CCW Amended Protocol II Article 13 report, delivered March 2012, the US provided the following statement:

“Beginning January 1, 2011, the United States no longer uses any persistent landmines anywhere. All persistent landmines, both anti-personnel and anti-vehicle, have been transferred to inactive inventory and will be destroyed in accordance with U.S. DoD policies and procedures”.

According to the statement, the United States’ entire stockpile of landmines now has the features of self-destruct and self-deactivation specifications provided in Amended Protocol II landmines.[24]

The US is retaining a small quantity of “persistent mines” for demining and counter-mine testing and training.[25]

On 26 December 2007, the comprehensive US moratorium on the export of antipersonnel mines was extended for six years until 2014.[26] US law has prohibited all antipersonnel mine exports since 23 October 1992, through a series of multi-year extensions of the moratorium.

The US has not produced antipersonnel mines since 1997. It is one of just 12 countries in the world that either still actively produces the weapon or reserves the right to do so.[27] However, the US currently has no plans to produce antipersonnel mines in the future. There are no victim-activated munitions being funded in the procurement or the research and development budgets of the US Armed Services or Department of Defense. 

Two programs that once had the potential for victim-activated features (thereby making them antipersonnel mines as defined by the Mine Ban Treaty), but that are now solely “man-in-the-loop” (command-detonated, and therefore permissible under the treaty), are being funded: XM-7 Spider Networked Munition and IMS Scorpion.[28]

In light of the termination in 2008 of the War Reserve Stocks for Allies, Korea (WRSA-K) program, and the US policy of prohibiting use of non-self-destructing antipersonnel mines in Korea after 2010, it appears that the approximately half a million mines stored in South Korea will be removed and destroyed.[29]

The Monitor has been reporting, based on official 2002 data, that the US has a stockpile of approximately 10.4 million antipersonnel mines.[30] However, knowledgeable sources have indicated to the Monitor that the current active stockpile is far smaller, and that millions of stockpiled mines have been removed from service and have been or will be destroyed.


[1] Joint Letter to President Obama reiterating the call for the U.S. to join the Mine Ban Treaty, 4 April 2012, http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/war-and-peace/landmines/upload/Joint-Letter-to-Obama-on-Mine-Ban-Treaty-2012-04-04.pdf.

[2] Statement of the US, Mine Ban Treaty Eleventh Meeting of States Parties, Phnom Penh, 2 December 2011.

[3] See, US Department of State, “Fact Sheet: New United States Policy on Landmines: Reducing Humanitarian Risk and Saving Lives of United States Soldiers,” Washington, DC, 27 February 2004.

[4] David Alexander, “U.S. landmines policy still under review,” Reuters (Washington, DC), 25 November 2009. The review got off to a fitful start. In what was later termed a mistake, on 24 November 2009, a US Department of State spokesperson responded to a question by stating that the Obama administration had completed a review of national mine policy and concluded the existing Bush-era policy would remain in effect and the US would not join the Mine Ban Treaty. Ian Kelly, Department Spokesperson, “Daily Press Briefing,” Department of State, Washington, DC, 24 November 2009.

[5] Statement of the US, Mine Ban Treaty Second Review Conference, Cartagena, 1 December 2009.

[6] Letter from Gen. James L. Jones, US Marine Corps (Ret.), National Security Advisor, to Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, 26 March 2010. He also stated they were reviewing “all mission requirements for which mines may still have a doctrinal utility. Our review seeks to determine whether each of those missions and tasks can be accomplished without the use of mines, whether through operational adaptation, the use of existing alternative systems, or the development of new technologies.”

[7] Statement of the US, Mine Ban Treaty Eleventh Meeting of States Parties, Phnom Penh, 2 December 2011.

[8] For example, in January 2010, the US responded to a request from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child for the US to join the Mine Ban Treaty with the following statement: “The United States has no plans to become party to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction.” It did not report that a policy review was underway. See: UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC), Consideration of reports submitted by States parties under article 8, paragraph 1, of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict: Second periodic reports of States parties due in 2010 - United States of America, 31 October 2011, CRC/C/OPAC/USA/2, available at: http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/4ef1eb5f8.html, accessed 28 September 2012.

[9] HRW, “US: Follow-up Rebuke to Syria on Landmines,” Press release, 4 April 2012, http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/04/04/us-follow-rebuke-syria-landmines

[10] Previously, the last time the US had attended even an informal Mine Ban Treaty-related meeting (intersessional Standing Committee meetings) was in June 2005.

[11] The US gave details of its support for demining, risk education, victim assistance as well as stockpile maintenance and destruction of excess, unstable weapons and munitions, and noted that its publication To Walk the Earth in Safety detailing all financial support it provided in the previous year, was available to delegates at the 11th Meeting of States Parties and would be released officially later in December 2012.

[12] During the meeting, the US delegation met with ICBL representatives and confirmed the policy review was continuing. ICBL meeting with Steven Costner, US Department of State, Geneva, 23 June 2011.

[13] The Senate letter was organized by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D–VT) and Sen. George Voinovich (R–OH). Letter to President Barack Obama from 68 US Senators, 18 May 2010. To join an international treaty, two-thirds of the 100-member US Senate must “provide their advice and consent.” An identical letter organized by Rep. Jim McGovern (D–MA) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R–CA) was sent to President Obama on 18 May 2010 by members of the House of Representatives. Letter to President Barack Obama from 57 members of the House of Representatives, 18 May 2010. HRW, “US: Two-Thirds in Senate Back Landmine Ban,” Press release, 8 May 2010.

[14] Signatories included Wangari Mathaai, Mohamed El Baradei, Shirin Ebadi, Aung San Suu Kyi, His Holiness Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Elie Wiesel, and Jody Williams. The letter is available at, www.nobelwomensinitiative.org.

[15] The letter is available at, www.physiciansforhumanrights.org

[16] ICBL, “Groups Worldwide Urge the U.S. to Ban Landmines,” Press release, 1 March 2011; and ICBL, “Time for United States to Join the Mine Ban Treaty,” Press release, 1 March 2010, www.icbl.org.  

[17] Zach Hudson, “US Landmine Policy Review Moving Forward,” ICBL News, July 2010, www.icbl.org.  

[18] USCBL “Civil Society Leaders Urge President Obama to Conclude Landmine Policy Review,” Press release, 18 April 2012, http://www.uscbl.org/fileadmin/content/images/Press_Releases/April_18_2012_NGO_Letter_Press_Release.pdf.

[19] According to the diplomatic cable issued by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in September 2009, US officials met representatives from the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republic of Palau on 2 December 1997, on the eve of the Mine Ban Treaty Signing Conference in Ottawa, “at the latter three’s request to discuss their potential signature/ratification.” During the meeting, US officials warned that “the U.S. would not adhere to the Ottawa Convention and that adherence by the other three states could conflict with defense provisions of the respective bilateral Compacts of Free Association.” Palau acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty on 18 November 2007 after, according to the cable, Palau “determined that the Ottawa Convention did not conflict with the Compact of Free Association.” Micronesia remains outside the Mine Ban Treaty. The Marshall Islands signed the Mine Ban Treaty in Ottawa on 4 December 1997, but has not yet ratified. The diplomatic cable provides “talking points” for US officials to respond to a “request” from the Marshall Islands for clarification on the US position on its potential ratification of the Mine Ban Treaty. “Concerns on Marshall Islands Ratification of the Ottawa Convention,” US Department of State cable 09STATE91952 dated 3 September 2009, released by Wikileaks on 26 August 2011, http://www.cablegatesearch.net/cable.php?id=09STATE91952.

[20] The US last used mines in 1991 in Iraq and Kuwait, scattering 117,634 of them mostly from airplanes. US General Accounting Office, “GAO-02-1003: MILITARY OPERATIONS: Information on US use of Land Mines in the Persian Gulf War,” September 2002, Appendix I, pp. 8–9.

[21] See for example, Christopher John Chivers, “Turning Tables, U.S. Troops Ambush Taliban with Swift and Lethal Results,” New York Times, 17 April 2009; and “Taliban displays ‘US weapons,’” Aljazeera, 10 November 2009, english.aljazeera.net.

[22] The use of Claymore mines in command-detonated mode, usually electrical detonation, is permitted by the Mine Ban Treaty, while use in victim-activated mode, usually with a tripwire, is prohibited. For many years, US policy and doctrine has prohibited the use of Claymore mines with tripwires, except in Korea. See Landmine Monitor Report 2000, p. 346.

[23] In December 2010, the US Army directed its field operations “to assign all stocks of persistent landmines, both anti-personnel and anti-vehicle, for demilitarization (destruction).” A State Department official said, “We have ended the use of all persistent mines,” and said that Defense Department personnel in the field had been notified that “these were off the table, that they’re being moved to the inactive stockpile and are no longer an option for use.” David Alexander, “U.S. halts use of long-life landmines, officials say,” Reuters (Washington, DC), 14 February 2011.

[24] CCW Amended Protocol II National Report, Form C, 30 March 2012 (“reporting for the time period through September 2011”), http://www.unog.ch/80256EDD006B8954/(httpAssets)/AD0E2FD6365586DFC12579D300589B45/$file/United_States_APII_NAR_30_March_2012.pdf.

[25] David Alexander, “U.S. halts use of long-life landmines, officials say,” Reuters (Washington, DC), 14 February 2011.

[26] Public Law 110-161, Fiscal Year 2008 Consolidated Appropriations Act, Section 634(j), 26 December 2007, p. 487.

[27] The Bush administration mine policy announced in February 2004 states, “The United States will continue to develop non-persistent anti-personnel and anti-tank landmines.” See, US Department of State, “Fact Sheet: New United States Policy on Landmines: Reducing Humanitarian Risk and Saving Lives of United States Soldiers,” Washington, DC, 27 February 2004, www.fas.org..

[28] For background on Spider and IMS, and the decision not to include victim-activated features, see Landmine Monitor Report 2009, pp. 1,131–1,132; Landmine Monitor Report 2008, pp. 1,040–1,041; and earlier editions of Landmine Monitor.

[29] For more details, see ICBL, “Country Profile: South Korea,” www.the-monitor.org. For many years, the US military also stockpiled about 1.1 million M14 and M16 non-self-destructing antipersonnel mines for use in any future war in Korea, with about half the total kept in South Korea and half in the continental US. In June 2011, a Foreign Ministry official stated that South Korea safeguards an antipersonnel mines stockpile that belongs to the US military on its territory as part of the WRSA-K program. These mines are planned to be gradually transferred out of South Korea.

[30] For details on stockpiling, see Landmine Monitor Report 2009, pp. 1,132–1,133. In 2002, the US stockpile consisted of: Artillery Delivered Antipersonnel Mine/ADAM (8,366,076); M14 (696,800); M16 (465,330); Claymore (403,096); Gator (281,822); Volcano/M87 (134,200); Ground Emplaced Mine Scattering System/GEMSS (32,900); Pursuit Deterrent Munition/PDM (15,100); and Modular Pack Mine System/MOPMS (8,824). Information provided by the US Armed Services in spring/summer 2002, cited in US General Accounting Office, “GAO-02-1003: MILITARY OPERATIONS: Information on US use of Land Mines in the Persian Gulf War,” September 2002, Appendix I, pp. 39–43.

Last Updated: 10 September 2012

Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Commitment to the Convention on Cluster Munitions

Convention on Cluster Munitions status


Participation in Convention on Cluster Munitions meetings


Key developments

Efforts to conclude a CCW protocol on cluster munitions ended unsuccessfully.


The United States of America (US) has not acceded to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

In November 2011, a US official said, “The United States recognizes the important contributions of the Oslo Convention,” but said the US views a new protocol on cluster munitions in the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) as the way to take “a significant step forward to eliminating the humanitarian impact of cluster munitions” as it would capture “major users and producers of cluster munitions,” the US included.[1] It is not known if the US will review its policy on cluster munitions following the failure in November 2011 of the US-led effort to conclude a CCW protocol that would have permitted continued use of cluster munitions (see the Convention on Conventional Weapons section below).

The administration of President Barack Obama has continued to implement a cluster munition policy created under President George W. Bush in July 2008. Under the 2008 Department of Defense policy, by the end of 2018 the US will no longer use cluster munitions that result in more than 1% unexploded ordnance (UXO).[2] Until 2018, any use of cluster munitions that exceed the 1% UXO rate must be approved by the Combatant Commander.[3] The 10-year transition period was seen as “necessary to develop the new technology, get it into production, and to substitute, improve, or replace existing stocks.”[4] Under the policy, all cluster munition stocks “that exceed operational planning requirements or for which there are no operational planning requirements” had to be removed from active inventories as soon as possible, but not later than 19 June 2009 and demilitarized as soon as practicable.[5]

In November 2011, the US stated that it would continue to implement the 2008 Department of Defense policy on cluster munitions as it considers cluster munitions to be “legitimate weapons,” but acknowledged the need to reduce damage to civilians and infrastructure.[6]

In April 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned the use of cluster munitions by forces of Moammaer Gadhafi in Misrata, Libya. In July 2012, during the first visit to Lao PDR by a US Secretary of State since 1955, Hilary Clinton reaffirmed the US commitment to eradicating UXO in the country and met with survivors of cluster munitions, but did not publicly discuss the ban on cluster munitions or acknowledge Lao PDR’s leadership of the Convention on Cluster Munitions.[7]

In March 2011, Senators Dianne Feinstein and Patrick Leahy, and Representative Jim McGovern, reintroduced the “Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act.” The act would limit the use and transfer of cluster munitions to those munitions that have a 99% or higher reliability rate, would prohibit use of cluster munitions in areas where civilians are known to be present and would require a cleanup plan of cluster munition remnants if the US used cluster munitions.[8]

The US did not directly participate, not even as an observer, in the diplomatic Oslo Process in 2007 and 2008 that resulted in the Convention on Cluster Munitions. However, US Department of State cables made public by Wikileaks from late 2010 through 2011 show how the US attempted to influence its allies, partners, and other states during the Oslo Process to affect the outcome of the negotiations especially with respect to the issue of “interoperability” (joint military operations among the US and States Parties to the convention).[9] The diplomatic cables also show how the US has worked extensively to influence national implementation legislation and interpretation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, including on issues of foreign stockpiling and transit (see the Foreign stockpiling and transit section below). [10]

In a February 2009 cable, the US commended Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Jonas Gahr Stoere for the “successful conclusion” of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, both “in drafting the treaty” and in “attracting over 100 signatories, including the majority of NATO allies.” Describing the Oslo Process as “an impressive effort,” the cable notes that, “U.S. concerns over interoperability were dismissed as alarmist and it took high-level USG intervention to ensure that the treaty did not harm our ability to operate with NATO allies.”[11] In at least one instance, a US cluster munition manufacturer exerted pressure on a foreign government not to sign the Convention on Cluster Munitions.[12]

The US has not participated in any meetings related to the Convention on Cluster Munitions. It was invited to, but did not attend, the convention’s Second Meeting of States Parties in Beirut, Lebanon in September 2011.

Civil society groups in the US have continued to take action in support of the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

The US has not joined the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, but in late 2009 the Obama administration began a comprehensive review of US policy on banning antipersonnel mines and accession to the treaty. In the three years since the policy review commenced, the US has become a regular observer at Mine Ban Treaty meetings, but policy review still had not concluded as of July 2012 and an outcome was not expected until January 2013 at the earliest.

Convention on Conventional Weapons

The US is a party to the CCW and for years played a leading role in efforts to conclude a protocol on cluster munitions, but the negotiations ended unsuccessfully at the CCW Fourth Review Conference in November 2011.

The US had opposed the negotiation of a legally binding instrument in the CCW until June 2007, once the Oslo Process was underway.[13] It subsequently became one of the most ardent supporters of a CCW protocol, working intensively, including between meetings, to forge agreement on a CCW protocol on cluster munitions. It worked to develop, as it stated in September 2010, “meaningful requirements” while accommodating proposals for a transition period, opposing a deadline for stockpile destruction, and opposing a broad definition of “cluster munition victim.” By the middle of 2011, the US had secured support for a CCW cluster munition protocol from China, Russia, and India, as well as Israel, Belarus, Brazil, Greece, Romania, Slovakia, South Korea, Turkey, and Ukraine, among others.

A year before the Fourth Review Conference, the US made clear that it viewed the meeting as the “end game” for CCW negotiations on cluster munitions.[14]

The US claimed that the draft protocol would cover “over 40 percent” of its current stockpiles, amounting to a total of nearly 2.8 million cluster munitions.[15] In November 2011, the State Department Legal Advisor stated that the draft protocol would prohibit “over 2 million cluster munitions or more than 100 million submunitions, which is about one-third of the entire U.S. stockpile of cluster munitions.”[16]

At the outset of the Review Conference in November 2011, the US asserted that the draft protocol offers “the only chance of bringing the world’s major cluster munitions users and producers – who represent between 85 and 90 percent of the world’s cluster munitions stockpiles, and are not in a position to join the Oslo Convention – into a legally binding set of prohibitions and regulations.”[17]

Throughout the negotiations, the US supported the main tenants of the protocol, including:

·         An exemption for cluster munitions meeting a manufacturer-stated 1% failure rate and several optional safeguards;

·         A prohibition on use and transfer of all cluster munitions produced before 1980; and

·         A 12-year transition period during which states could continue to use all cluster munitions.

In a stated effort to make concessions in order to garner consensus, the US proposed a technical amendment to the protocol on 18 November.[18] On the final day of the conference, an hour before the negotiations were scheduled to end, the US introduced a new proposal to remove all references to “use” of cluster munitions from the chair’s draft text in a last-minute attempt to create an arms-control type of stockpile management and transfers agreement that would still implicitly allow for unrestricted use of cluster munitions. After a brief recess, the meeting reconvened and Costa Rica read a joint statement on behalf of a group of 50 states declaring that the chair’s draft text does not fully address the fundamental concerns and is unacceptable from a humanitarian standpoint, and therefore does not command consensus.[19]

The Review Conference concluded without agreeing on a protocol and with no proposals for further work on cluster munitions, thus marking the end of the CCW’s work on cluster munitions. The US issued a statement that it was “deeply disappointed by the failure” to conclude a protocol on cluster munitions. It said “In the wake of this outcome, the United States will continue to implement its own voluntary policy to prohibit by 2018 the use of cluster munitions with more than a one percent unexploded ordnance rate, and we encourage other countries to take similar steps.”[20]

US NGO and CMC chair Human Rights Watch (HRW) described the failure of the CCW protocol negotiations as “a great day for those who care about the protection of civilians,” as the proposed protocol “would have given political and legal cover to those who want to continue to use these weapons that have already caused so much human suffering.”[21]


The US used cluster munitions in Cambodia, Lao PDR, and Vietnam (1960s and 1970s); Grenada and Lebanon (1983); Libya (1986); Iran (1988); Iraq, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia (1991); Bosnia and Herzegovina (1995); Serbia, Montenegro, and Kosovo (1999); Afghanistan (2001 and 2002); and Iraq (2003).[22] The US has apparently not used cluster munitions in Afghanistan since 2002 or in Iraq since 2003.

In June 2010, Amnesty International (AI) published a series of photographs and stated that it appeared to confirm US use of at least one TLAM-D cruise missile with 166 BLU-97 submunitions to attack an “alleged al-Qa’ida training camp” in al-Ma’jalah in the al-Mahfad district of Abyan governorate of Yemen on 17 December 2009.[23] Neither the US nor Yemeni governments have publicly responded to the use allegations. The CMC officially requested the US to confirm or deny this reported use of US-manufactured cluster munitions in Yemen, but there has been no response.[24]

In December 2010, Wikileaks released a US Department of State cable dated 21 December 2009 that acknowledged the US had a role in the 17 December strike, and said that Yemeni government officials:

…continue to publicly maintain that the operation was conducted entirely by its forces, acknowledging U.S. support strictly in terms of intelligence sharing. Deputy Prime Minister Rashad al-Alimi told the Ambassador on December 20 that any evidence of greater U.S. involvement such as fragments of U.S. munitions found at the sites - could be explained away as equipment purchased from the U.S.[25]


In 2001, then-Secretary of Defense William Cohen issued a policy memorandum stating that all submunitions reaching the “full rate” production decision by fiscal year 2005 and beyond must have a failure rate of less than 1%.[26] The US has not budgeted any money for producing new cluster munitions since 2007.[27] Research and development activities continue at the applied research level for the purposes of improving the reliability of existing submunitions as well as the development of new types of submunitions. These activities are in programs being conducted by the Air Force, Army, and the Office of the Secretary of Defense.[28]


The omnibus budget bill (HR 1105) signed into law on 11 March 2009 by President Obama contains a provision banning nearly all cluster bomb exports by the US.[29] The legislation also requires the receiving country to agree that cluster munitions “will not be used where civilians are known to be present.”[30] 

On 19 May 2011, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) issued a memorandum on the sale of cluster munitions that incorporates these legal requirements into DSCA policy by adding them to the Security Assistance Management Manual. According to this policy, the US can only export cluster munitions that leave behind less than 1% of UXO. According to the US agency that administers weapons transfers, “At present the only cluster munition with a compliant submunition (one that does not result in more than 1% UXO across the range of intended operational environments) is the CBU-97B/CBU-105, Sensor Fuzed Weapon (SFW). The CBU-107 Passive Attack Weapon, which contains non-explosive rods, is not captured by the ban.”[31]

The most recent US exports of cluster munitions include sales to the United Arab Emirates[32] (announced in September 2006 of 780 M30 GMLRS rockets), India[33] (announced in September 2008 of 510 CBU-105 SFW), Saudi Arabia[34] (announced in June 2011 of 404 CBU-105D/B SFW), Taiwan[35] (announced in September 2011 of 64 CBU-105 SFW), and the Republic of Korea (announced June 2012 of 367 CBU-105D/B SFW).[36] According to the 2008 policy, states receiving cluster munitions that do not meet the 1% UXO standard after 19 June 2008 must agree not to use those munitions after 2018.[37]

While the historical record is incomplete, the US has transferred hundreds of thousands of cluster munitions, containing tens of millions of submunitions, to at least 30 countries: Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, South Korea, Morocco, the Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom (UK).

States Parties and signatories of the Convention on Cluster Munitions have declared that they possess or have already destroyed US-produced cluster munitions, including Belgium, Canada, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, and the UK.

The US also licensed the production of cluster munitions with Japan, South Korea, the Netherlands, Pakistan, and Turkey.

In 2012, Chile’s Ministry of Defense provided the Monitor with information showing an export to the United States in 1991 of one 250kg cluster bomb and one 500kg cluster bomb.[38]


In November 2009, a US Department of State official said, “The current stockpile is huge; the Department of Defense currently holds more than 5 million cluster munitions with 700 million submunitions. Using our current demilitarization capabilities, it will cost $2.2 billion to destroy this stockpile.”[39] At the CCW Fourth Review Conference in November 2011, the US delegate stated that the US stockpile includes “more than 6 million cluster munitions,” which indicates that the stockpile may be larger than previously reported.[40]

An October 2004 report to the US Congress by the Department of Defense provides details on a stockpile of 5.5 million cluster munitions containing about 728.5 million submunitions.[41]

US Stockpile of Cluster Munitions (as of 2004)[42]


Number of Submunitions Per Munition

Munitions in Active Inventory

Submunitions in Active Inventory

Munitions in Total Inventory

Submunitions in Total Inventory










































































Mk-20 Rockeye
















































Grand Total





In February 2011, in a presentation to CCW delegates, the US stated that “around two million” cluster munitions would be captured by a CCW proposal for a ban on the use of cluster munitions produced before 1980. The types of cluster munitions included in this figure were listed on a slide projected during an informal briefing to CCW delegates by a member of the US delegation. Several of the types, such as CBU-58, CBU-55B, and M509A1 were not listed in the “active” or “total” inventory by the US Department of Defense in a report to Congress in late 2004.

The October 2004 Department of Defense report to US Congress provides details on a stockpile of 5.5 million cluster munitions of 17 different types that contain about 728 million submunitions.[43] However, this figure does not appear to be a full accounting of cluster munitions available to US forces. The number apparently does not include cluster munitions that are located in foreign countries or stockpiled as part of the War Reserve Stocks for Allies (WRSA).[44]

The Department of Defense had not publicly reported on the removal of excess cluster munitions from stocks by June 2009, as called for in the July 2008 policy. But it appears that action has been taken. For example, the UK government told parliamentarians that the US had identified the cluster munitions on UK territory as “exceeding operational planning requirements” and that they would be “gone from the UK itself by the end of [2010]” and “gone from other UK territories, including Diego Garcia, by the end of 2013.”[45] In December 2010, Wikileaks released a US Department of State cable dated 21 May 2009 and titled “US-UK Cluster Munitions Dialogue,” which reported on a proposal that would provide a temporary exception to this timeline for new cluster munitions that the US brought to British territory after the 2013 deadline.[46]

Since 2000, the US has destroyed 9,400 tons of outdated cluster munitions (not including missiles and rockets) on average per year at an average annual cost of $7.2 million. For fiscal year 2012, the funding for the destruction of non-missile cluster munitions and submunitions consumes 24% of the annual budget allocation for the destruction of conventional ammunitions.[47] 

Since fiscal year 2007, there has been a separate funding source for the destruction of Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) rockets and ATACM missiles, with special destruction facilities for MLRS rockets at the Anniston Defense Munitions Center in Alabama and the Letterkenny Munitions Center in Pennsylvania. The army has requested $109 million for the destruction of 98,904 M26 MLRS rockets from fiscal year 2007 to fiscal year 2012.[48]

Foreign stockpiling and transit

US Department of State cables released by Wikileaks show that the US has stockpiled and may continue to be storing cluster munitions in a number of countries, including Convention on Cluster Munitions States Parties Afghanistan, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Spain, as well as in non-signatories Israel, Qatar and perhaps Kuwait:

·         According to a December 2008 cable, “The United States currently has a very small stockpile of cluster munitions in Afghanistan.”[49]

·         According to a December 2008 cable, Germany has engaged with the United States on the matter of cluster munitions that may be stockpiled by the US in Germany.[50]

·         According to a cable detailing the inaugural meeting on 1 May 2008 of the “U.S.-Israeli Cluster Munitions Working Group (CMWG),” until US cluster munitions are transferred from the War Reserve Stockpiles for use by Israel in wartime, “they are considered to be under U.S. title, and U.S. legislation now prevents such a transfer of any cluster munitions with less than a one percent failure rate.”[51]

·         In a November 2008 cable, the US identified Italy, Spain, and Qatar as states of particular concern with respect to interoperability since “they are states in which the US stores cluster munitions,” even though apparently Qatar “may be unaware of US cluster munitions stockpiles in the country.”[52]

·         A December 2008 cable states that Japan “recognizes U.S. forces in Japan are not under Japan's control and hence the GOJ cannot compel them to take action or to penalize them.”[53]

·         According to a May 2007 cable, the US might be storing clusters munitions in Kuwait.[54]


[1] Statement by Phillip Spector, Head of US Delegation, CCW Fourth Review Conference, Geneva, 14 November 2011, http://www.unog.ch/80256EDD006B8954/(httpAssets)/AA39A701F5D863C9C1257965003B6737/$file/4thRevCon_USA_Rev2.pdf.

[2] The policy memorandum was dated 19 June, but not formally released until 9 July 2008. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, “Memorandum for the Secretaries of the Military Departments, Subject: DOD Policy on Cluster Munitions and Unintended Harm to Civilians,” 19 June 2008, http://www.defense.gov/news/d20080709cmpolicy.pdf.

[3] The new policy requires cluster munitions used after 2018 to meet a 1% UXO rate not only in testing, but in actual use during combat operations within the variety of operational environments in which US forces intend to use the weapon. Combatant Commander is the title of a major military leader of US Armed Forces, either of a large geographical region or of a particular military function, formerly known as a commander-in-chief.

[4] Statement by Stephen Mathias, “United States Intervention on Technical Improvements,” CCW Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on Cluster Munitions, Geneva, 15 July 2008.

[5] Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, “Memorandum for the Secretaries of the Military Departments, Subject: DOD Policy on Cluster Munitions and Unintended Harm to Civilians,” 19 June 2008, http://www.defense.gov/news/d20080709cmpolicy.pdf. The US has not reported any details on the removal of stocks, or whether the undertaking has been completed.

[6] Andrew Feickert and Paul K. Kerr, “Cluster Munitions: Background and Issues for Congress,” Congressional Research Service, p. 5, http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/weapons/RS22907.pdf.

[7] CMC web story, “US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visits COPE in Lao PDR,” 11 July 2012, http://www.stopclustermunitions.org/news/?id=3735.

[8] Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act of 2009, S. 416 and H. 981. It was first introduced in February 2007, and reintroduced in February 2009.

[9] For detail on US policy and practice regarding cluster munitions through early 2009, see Human Rights Watch and Landmine Action, Banning Cluster Munitions: Government Policy and Practice (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, May 2009), pp. 251–260.

[10] As of July 2012, Wikileaks had made public a total of 428 cables relating to cluster munitions originating from 100 locations for the period from 2003 to 2010. Previously, Cluster Munition Monitor 2011 reviewed a total of 57 US diplomatic cables on cluster munitions from 24 locations cables released by Wikileaks as of early August 2011, http://www.cablegatesearch.net/search.php?q=cluster+munitions&qo=0&qc=0&qto=2010-02-28.

[11] “Part III: Norwegian foreign minister Store: The world at his feet,” US Department of State cable 09OSLO116 dated 13 February 2009, released by Wikileaks on 1 September 2011, http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/02/09OSLO116.html#.

[12] In a November 2008 cable released by Wikileaks, the US embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria, reported that a team from the US defense firm Textron Systems met with Bulgarian officials in 2008 to urge Bulgaria not to sign the convention. “Bulgaria to Sign Oslo Convention but Will Remain Interoperable,” US Department of State cable 08SOFIA748 dated 26 November 2008, released by Wikileaks on 30 August 2011, http://wikileaks.org/cable/2008/11/08SOFIA748.html.

[13] At CCW’s Third Review Conference in November 2006, the US position was that it was unnecessary to talk about new rules of international humanitarian law. Instead, it said that states should apply existing laws “rigorously” and focus on the implementation of Protocol V on Explosive Remnants of War, to which it is a party. See: Human Rights Watch and Landmine Action, Banning Cluster Munitions: Government Policy and Practice (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, May 2009), pp. 251–260.

[14] Statement of US, CCW Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 26 November 2010. Notes by Action on Armed Violence (AOAV).

[15] Statement of US, CCW GGE on Cluster Munitions, Geneva, 21 February 2011. Notes by AOAV.

[16] Briefing by Harold Koh, Legal Advisor, US Department of State, and Bill Lietzau, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, “U.S. Position on the Convention on Conventional Weapons Negotiations on Cluster Munitions Protocol,” 16 November 2011, http://www.state.gov/s/l/releases/remarks/177280.htm.

[17] Statement of the US, Fourth Review Conference, CCW, Geneva, 14 November 2011. http://www.unog.ch/80256EDD006B8954/%28httpAssets%29/AA39A701F5D863C9C1257965003B6737/$file/4thRevCon_USA_Rev2.pdf.

[18] The US proposal was to move the exclusion for weapons with a claimed less than 1% failure rate from Technical Annex A (which refers to munitions excluded entirely from the protocol, such as weapons not covered under the Oslo definition of cluster munitions), to Technical Annex B (the optional menu of technical “safeguards” which can be employed to deem a cluster munition a legally permissible weapon.) This would be accompanied by a new paragraph in Article 1 on general provisions and scope that while the protocol did not apply to weapons not banned under the Convention on Cluster Munitions, each High Contracting Party to a CCW protocol that retained these munitions “should ensure that such weapons have the lowest possible unexploded ordnance rate, consistent with military requirements.”

[19] Joint Statement read by Costa Rica, on behalf of Afghanistan, Angola, Austria, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Chile, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Holy See, Honduras, Iceland, Lao PDR, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Mexico, Mozambique, Namibia, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Senegal, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Uruguay, Venezuela, Zambia and Zimbabwe. CCW Fourth Review Conference, Geneva, 25 November 2011. List confirmed in email from Bantan Nugroho, Head of the CCW Implementation Support Unit, UN Department for Disarmament Affairs, 1 June 2012.

[20] Permanent Mission of the United States of America press statement, “U.S. Deeply Disappointed by CCW’s Failure to Conclude Protocol on Cluster Munitions,” Geneva, 25 November 2011, http://geneva.usmission.gov/2011/11/25/u-s-deeply-disappointed-by-ccws-failure-to-conclude-procotol-on-cluster-munitions/.

[21] HRW press release, “Cluster Bombs: Nations Reject Weakening of Global Ban,” 25 November 2011, https://www.hrw.org/news/2011/11/25/cluster-bombs-nations-reject-weakening-global-ban.

[22] For historical details on the use of cluster munitions by the US, see ICBL, Cluster Munition Monitor 2010 (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, October 2010), pp. 256.

[23] The remnants in the photographs included images of the propulsion system, a BLU-97 submunition, and the payload ejection system, the latter of which is unique to the TLAM-D cruise missile. AI, “Images of Missile and Cluster Munitions Point to US Role in Fatal Attack in Yemen,” 7 June 2010. See also, “U.S. missiles killed civilians in Yemen, rights group says,” CNN, 7 June 2010.

[24] CMC, “US: Confirm or deny use of cluster munitions in Yemen,” Press release, 8 June 2010. 

[25] “ROYG [Republic of Yemen Government] looks ahead following CT operations, but perhaps not far enough,” US Department of State cable SANAA 02230 dated 21 December 2009, released by Wikileaks on 4 December 2010, http://www.cablegatesearch.net/cable.php?id=09SANAA2251&q=munitions.

[26] Secretary of Defense William Cohen, “Memorandum for the Secretaries of the Military Departments, Subject: DoD Policy on Submunition Reliability (U),” 10 January 2001. In other words, submunitions that reach “full rate production,” i.e. production for use in combat, during the first quarter of fiscal year 2005 must meet the new standard. According to an October 2004 Pentagon report to Congress on cluster munitions, submunitions procured in past years are exempt from the policy, but “[f]uture submunitions must comply with the desired goal of 99% or higher submunition functioning rate or must receive a waiver.” Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology and Logistics), Department of Defense, “Report to Congress: Cluster Munitions,” October 2004, p. ii.

[27] For detail on the production of cluster munitions by the US from 2005 to 3007, see Human Rights Watch and Landmine Action, Banning Cluster Munitions: Government Policy and Practice (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, May 2009), pp. 257–258; and ICBL, Cluster Munition Monitor 2010 (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada: October 2010), p. 263.

[28] For example, see US Air Force, “Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation Budget Item Justification, Applied Research: Program Element Number PE 0602602F: Conventional Munitions,” February 2011, p. 6; US Army, “Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation Budget Item Justification, Applied Research: Program Element Number 0602624A: Weapons and Munitions Technology,” February 2011, p. 5; and Office of the Secretary of Defense, “Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation Budget Item Justification, Applied Research: Program Element Number 0602000D8Z: Joint Munitions Technology,” February 2011, p. 13.

[29] Omnibus Appropriations Act, 2009 (H.R. 1105), became Public Law No. 111-8, 11 March 2009. See also, Sen. Patrick Leahy and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, “FY2009 Omnibus Bill Includes Leahy-Feinstein Provision to Prohibit Sale or Transfer of Most U.S. Cluster Munitions,” Press release, 12 March 2009, Washington, DC, www.feinstein.senate.gov. The sponsors of the provision characterized it as a permanent ban on exports. This view has been disputed by others, who have said that it can only apply to the one-year period funded in the bill. Sen. Leahy has included the provision again in annual appropriations bills. A one-year US export ban was first enacted in a budget bill in December 2007, and extended the following year. Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008 (H.R. 2764), 110th Congress, 2007. In September 2008, Congress passed a continuing resolution to extend the Consolidated Appropriations Act, and thus the moratorium, through 6 March 2009.

[30] US-supplied cluster munitions have been used in combat by Israel in Lebanon and Syria, by Morocco in Western Sahara and possibly Mauritania, by the UK, and the Netherlands in the former Yugoslavia, and by the UK in Iraq.

[31] US Defense Security Cooperation Agency, “Guidance on the Sale of Cluster Munitions, DSCA Policy 11-33,” Memorandum, 19 May 2011, Washington, DC, www.dsca.mil.

[32] US Defense Security Cooperation Agency Press release, “United Arab Emirates: High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems,” Transmittal No. 06-55, 21 September 2006, Washington, DC, www.dsca.mil. While the export of these cluster munitions is not allowed under the ban legislation, an Army officer told the trade publication Inside the Army in 2009 that the deal was signed in 2007, well before the export ban legislation was introduced, and that the army obtained legal opinions that confirm the validity of the final sale. It is not publicly known how or when this situation was resolved.

[33] US Defense Security Cooperation Agency Press release, “India: CBU-105 Sensor Fuzed Weapons,” Transmittal No. 08-105, 30 September 2008, Washington, DC, www.dsca.mil.

[34] US Defense Security Cooperation Agency Press release, “Saudi Arabia: CBU-105 Sensor Fuzed Weapons,” Transmittal No. 10-03, Washington, DC, 13 June 2011, http://www.dsca.mil/PressReleases/36-b/2011/Saudi_Arabia_10-03.pdf.

[35] These were to be included as associated parts in the sale of F-16A/B aircraft. “Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States - Retrofit of F-16A/B Aircraft”, Defense Security Cooperation Agency, News Release. No. 11-39, 21 September 2011, http://bit.ly/L3nWtL.

[36] US Defense Security Cooperation Agency Press release, “Republic of Korea: CBU-105D/B Sensor Fuzed Weapons,” Transmittal No. 12-23, Washington, DC, 4 June 2012, http://www.dsca.mil/PressReleases/36-b/2012/Korea_12.23.pdf.

[37] “Q & A on New DOD Cluster Munitions Policy,” US Department of State cable 08STATE77331 dated 18 July 2008, released by Wikileaks 30 August 2011, http://wikileaks.org/cable/2008/07/08STATE77331.html. Question 7 of this document notes that this policy “seems to give recipients of transfer of old cluster munitions free reign to use them until 2018.” The response to this question notes, “It is part of our export control practice to have end-user certification and agreements. The nature and content of these are often classified between the United States and the recipient government.”

[38] Cluster Munition Monitor notes on Chilean Air Force document signed by Chair of the Joint Chief of Staff of the Air Force, “Exports of Cluster Bombs authorized in the years 1991- 2001,” dated 23 June 2009, taken during Monitor meeting with Juan Pablo Jara, Desk Officer, Ministry of Defense, Santiago, 11 April 2012. Translation by the Monitor.

[39] Statement by Harold Hongju Koh, US Department of State, Third Conference of the High Contracting Parties to CCW Protocol V, 9 November 2009.

[40] Statement of the US, Fourth Review Conference, CCW, Geneva, 14 November 2011, http://www.unog.ch/80256EDD006B8954/%28httpAssets%29/AA39A701F5D863C9C1257965003B6737/$file/4thRevCon_USA_Rev2.pdf.

[41] Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology and Logistics), Department of Defense, “Report to Congress: Cluster Munitions,” October 2004. The report lists 626,824,422 submunitions in the “Active Inventory” and 728,527,689 in the “Total Inventory.”

[42] Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology and Logistics), Department of Defense, “Report to Congress: Cluster Munitions,” October 2004.

[43] Ibid. The report lists 626,824,422 submunitions in the “Active Inventory” and 728,527,689 in the “Total Inventory.”

[44] Under this program, munitions are stored in foreign countries, but kept under US title and control, then made available to US and allied forces in the event of hostilities. The 2004 Department of Defense report also does not include SADARM cluster munitions (thought to number 715) and an unknown number of TLAM-D cruise missiles with conventional submunitions. In 1994, the stockpile, including WRSA, consisted of 8.9 million cluster munitions containing nearly 1 billion submunitions, see US Army Material Systems Analysis Activity, “Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) Study,” April 1996.

[45] Statement by Baroness Glenys Kinnock, House of Lords Debate, Hansard (London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, HMSO, 8 December 2009), Column 1020; and statement by Chris Bryant, House of Commons Debate, Hansard (London: HMSO, 17 March 2010), Column 925.

[46] “U.S.-UK Cluster Munitions Dialogue,” US Department of State cable 09STATE52368 dated 21 May 2009, released by Wikileaks on 1 December 2010. See David de Sola, “UK offered exceptions for U.S. cluster munitions despite treaty,” CNN, 3 December 2010.

[47] Figures and averages are compiled from annual editions of Department of the Army, “Procurement of Ammunition, Committee Staff Procurement Backup Book,” from fiscal year 2000 to fiscal year 2012.

[48] Department of the Army, “Procurement of Ammunition, Committee Staff Procurement Backup Book,” February 2011, pp. 729–730.

[49] “Demarche to Afghanistan on cluster munitions,” US Department of State cable 08STATE134777 dated 29 December 2008, released by Wikileaks on 2 December 2010, http://www.cablegatesearch.net/cable.php?id=08STATE134777&q=cluster%20munitions.

[50] A US cable dated 2 December 2008 citing a discussion between US officials and Gregor Koebel, then-head of the Conventional Arms Control Division of the German Federal Foreign Office, states “Koebel stressed that the US will continue to be able to store and transport CM [Cluster Munitions] in Germany, noting that this should be of ‘no concern whatsoever to our American colleagues.’” See: “MFA gives reassurances on stockpiling of US cluster munitions in Germany,” US Department of State cable 08BERLIN1609 dated 2 December 2008, released by Wikileaks on 1 September 2011, http://www.cablegatesearch.net/cable.php?id=08BERLIN1609&q=cluster%20munitions. See also “Demarche to Germany Regarding Convention on Cluster Munitions,” US Department of State cable 08STATE125631 dated 26 November 2008, released by Wikileaks on 1 September 2011, http://www.cablegatesearch.net/cable.php?id=08STATE125631&q=cluster%20munitions.

[51] “Cluster munitions: Israeli’s operational defensive capabilities crisis,” US Department of State cable dated 18 April 2008, released by Wikileaks on 1 September 2011, http://www.cablegatesearch.net/cable.php?id=08STATE41023&q=cluster%20munitions.

[52] “Demarche to Italy, Spain and Qatar Regarding Convention on Cluster Munitions, US Department of State cable 08STATE125632 dated 26 November 2008, released by Wikileaks on 30 August 2011, http://www.cablegatesearch.net/cable.php?id=08STATE125632&q=cluster%20munitions.

[53] “Consultations with Japan on implementing the Oslo convention on cluster munitions,” US Department of State cable 08TOKYO3532 dated 30 December 2008, released by Wikileaks on 1 September 2011, http://www.cablegatesearch.net/cable.php?id=08TOKYO3532&q=cluster%20munitions.

[54] The cable contains the text of a message sent from a US military advisor to United Arab Emirates authorities concerning a transfer of “ammunition immediately via US Air Force aircraft from Kuwait stockpile to Lebanon.” With respect to the items to be transferred, the cable states: “The United States will not approve any cluster munitions or white phosphorus.” See “Follow-up on UAE response to Lebanese request for emergency aid, US Department of State cable 07ABUDHABI876 dated 24 May 2007, released by Wikileaks on 1 September 2011, http://www.cablegatesearch.net/cable.php?id=07ABUDHABI876&q=cluster%20munitions.

Last Updated: 19 June 2010

Casualties and Victim Assistance


Thirty-seven US soldiers were killed by improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Iraq and 132 in Afghanistan in 2009, compared to 131 soldiers killed in Iraq, and 72 in Afghanistan in 2008.[2] It was not known how many incidents were caused by victim-activated IEDs.[3] In addition, five US soldiers were killed or injured by mines or explosive remnants of war (ERW). One US soldier was killed by a mine in Afghanistan;[4] one US soldier was killed and two were injured by an item of ERW at Camp Hansen in Okinawa, Japan;[5] and one US soldier was killed by a mine in Baghdad, Iraq.[6]

Between 1999 and 2009, Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor recorded 212 US mine/ERW/IED casualties (83 killed, 129 injured).[7]

Victim Assistance

The total number of mine/ERW/IED survivors in the US is likely to number in the thousands. From 2001 to 1 March 2010, 967 soldiers lost at least one limb in Iraq and Afghanistan.[8]

Survivor needs

In 2009, the Joint Department of Defense/Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) Disability Evaluation System (DES) piloted a single disability examination at 21 sites to assess whether 337 injured active duty soldiers should be discharged from the military based on injuries, wounds, or illnesses incurred during their service. Based on the information collected, it assisted the pilot participants in transitioning to civilian life with access to the benefits and services available to them through the DVA.[9]

Victim assistance coordination

Government coordinating body/ focal point


Coordinating mechanism(s)



DVA 2006―2011 Strategic Plan


The DVA is the lead government agency that assists all veterans, including those disabled from mines/ERW/IEDs, with offices in each of the 50 states, the Philippines, and the territories of American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.[10] The DVA Office of Survivors Assistance is the primary advisor to the government on policies and programs affecting survivors and dependents of deceased veterans and service members.[11]

Survivor inclusion

In February 2009, Tammy Duckworth, a disabled US veteran, was appointed as an assistant secretary of the DVA, helping to “overhaul the agency” with a goal of reducing bureaucratic obstacles to disability benefits.[12]

Service accessibility and effectiveness

Victim assistance activities in 2009

Name of organization

Type of organization

Type of activity

Changes in quality/coverage of service in 2009



Advocacy, rehabilitation, disability benefits, medical, reintegration

Increased  the available number of prosthetic providers, and capacity of mental health services

Department of Labor


Economic inclusion

New employment project for disabled veterans

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans for America



No change

Wounded Warrior Project



No change


In 2009, the DVA increased the number of local accredited orthopedic and prosthetic providers to ensure decentralized access to physical rehabilitation care. As of March 2010, it had contracted more than 600 local orthopedic and prosthetic providers.[13] The DVA also added additional mental health clinicians and increased its psychological support capacity to treat veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), though stigma around mental health prevented many veterans from accessing available services.[14]

In January 2009, the Department of Labor initiated the “America’s Heroes at Work” employment pilot project to coordinate employment opportunities for veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury and/or PTSD and document best practices to help employers hire, accommodate, and retain veterans in the workplace.[15]

In 2009, the Wounded Warrior Project identified a number of shortcomings in the DVA’s Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment program. These included insufficient, temporary support payments for disabled veterans; too few counselors attending to program participants; insufficient reimbursement of program participation expenses; and a lack of long-term measurement mechanisms to quantify program success.[16]

On 30 July 2009, the US signed the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, but had not ratified it as of June 2010.

[1] In 2009, no mine/ERW casualties were identified on US territory; three ERW casualties were identified in 2008. Previously, Landmine Monitor did not report such incidents. Steve Szkotak, “Civil War cannonball kills Virginia relic collector,” The Boston Globe (Chester), 2 May 2008, www.boston.com; and Chelsea J. Carter, “Military cracks down on scrap-metal scavengers,” The Seattle Times (Twentynine Palms), 13 May 2008, seattletimes.nwsource.com.

[2] “Iraq Coalition Casualty Count: IED Fatalities by Cause of Death,” icasualties.org.

[3] Like landmines, victim-activated explosive devices are triggered by the presence, proximity, or contact of a person or vehicle. Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor analysis of media reports and US Department of Defense casualty reports from 1 January to 31 December 2009.

[4] Stephanie Gaskell, “As family says goodbye to Bronx marine who fell in Afghanistan, brother blames himself for loss,” Daily News (New York), 9 January 2009, www.nydailynews.com.

[5] Eric Talmadge, “60 years after Second World War, Okinawa still rife with bombs,” Canada East, 3 May 2009, www.canadaeast.com.

[6] US Department of Defense, “DoD Identifies Army Casualty,” Press release, No. 224-09, 7 April 2009, www.defense.gov.

[8] “As amputee ranks grow, wounded warriors bond,” Watertown Daily Times, 25 March 2010; and Kimberly Hefling, “Military sees increase in wounded in Afghanistan,” Huffington Post, 11 November 2009, www.huffingtonpost.com.

[9] DVA, “Fiscal Year 2009 Performance and Accountability Report: VA’s Performance,” www4.va.gov, p.20.

[10] DVA, www.va.gov.

[11] DVA, Office of Survivors Assistance, www.va.gov/survivors.

[12] Ed O’Keefe, “She is the face of the new generation: At VA and among vets, Duckworth is trying to reshape perceptions,” Washington Post, 11 November 2009, www.washingtonpost.com.

[13] DVA, Prosthetic and Sensory Aids Service, Orthotic & Prosthetic Services, www.prosthetics.va.gov.

[14] Alex Parker, “Back home, veterans fight different kind of war,” Chicago Tribune, 6 November 2009, www.chicagotribune.com.

[15] US Department of Labor, “America's Heroes at Work Employment Pilot,” www.americasheroesatwork.gov.

[16] Wounded Warrior Project, “2010 Policy Agenda,” www.woundedwarriorproject.org, pp.13–14.

Last Updated: 05 October 2012

Support for Mine Action

Support for Mine Action

As part of the United States (US) Conventional Weapons Destruction Program, the US contributed US$131.4 million to 37 countries and territories to mine action in 2011 through more than 40 organizations, UNDP, the NATO Maintenance and Supply Agency (NAMSA), the Organization of American States (OAS), and ITF Enhancing Human Security (formerly the International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance; hereinafter, ITF).[1] This is the largest amount ever reported for the US as well as the largest number of recipients of US funding in one year.

Afghanistan and Iraq received the largest contributions, and together they constituted almost half (48%) of US funding in 2011. The percentage of US funding allocated to Afghanistan and Iraq thus increased by 4% in 2010 from 44% in 2009. Six recipients (Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia, Colombia, Iraq and Lao PDR) each received at least $5 million.

The US was the largest donor for victim assistance in 2011. It contributed $12.1 million, which represented 38% of all international victim assistance funding, to 12 countries and the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT).[2] The Leahy War Victims Fund,[3] one of the five Special Programs to Address the Needs of Survivors (SPANS) within the Bureau for Democracy (a part of the Agency for International Development, USAID) which focuses on assistance to disabled civilian victims of conflict, allocated a total of more than $5.3 million; recipients were Armenia ($1 million) Colombia ($3.2 million), Ethiopia ($327,000), and the ICRC and Lebanon ($800,000).[4] Other victim assistance support went through the ITF in Slovenia and grants directly to NGOs.

The US also provides ongoing support to the Center for International Stabilization and Recovery (CISR), located at James Madison University in the state of Virginia, which supports training, research and the Journal of Mine Action publication.[5]

Since 2007, the US has contributed more than $530 million to mine action largely through the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the US Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA) and the Leahy War Victims Fund at USAID.  

Contributions by recipient: 2011[6]





Clearance, victim assistance



Clearance, victim assistance, risk education






Clearance, victim assistance, risk education



Clearance, victim assistance, risk education



Clearance, victim assistance, risk education






Clearance, victim assistance



Clearance, victim assistance, risk education


Bosnia and Herzegovina






South Sudan



Sri Lanka

























Clearance, victim assistance, risk education



Clearance, victim assistance, risk education












Victim assistance





Guinea Bissau












Solomon Islands







Victim assistance


Occupied Palestinian Territory

Clearance, victim assistance, risk education






Risk education



Victim assistance, risk education





Contributions by thematic sector in 2011 (US$)





Victim assistance


Risk education





Summary of contributions in 2007–2011 (US$)[7]

















[1] US Department of State, “To Walk the Earth in Safety 2012,” Washington, DC, July 2012. The two territories were the disputed Nagorno Karabakh in the Caucasus area and the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

[2] Victim assistance is largely supported through national government and non-governmental programs as well as through private sources and various foreign assistance mechanisms. Traditional international mine action assistance constitutes a limited amount of the total funding for victim assistance.

[3] For more information see, The Leahy War Victims Fund.

[4] US Department of State, “To Walk the Earth in Safety 2012,” Washington, DC, July 2012.

[6] US Department of State, “To Walk the Earth in Safety 2012,” Washington, DC, July 2012; email from Michael Lundquist, Executive Director, POLUS Center, 7 September 2012; email from Andrew Moore, Caucasus and Balkans Desk Officer, 30 August 2012; ITF Enhancing Human Security (ITF), Donors: Donations Overview: All, 2011;” email from Scotty Lee, Director, Spirit of Soccer, 7 September 2012; and email from Arben Braha, Director, Albania Mine Action Executive, 17 April 2012.