Last Updated: 04 September 2013

Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Commitment to the Convention on Cluster Munitions

Convention on Cluster Munitions status

State Party

National implementation legislation

In preparation

Participation in Convention on Cluster Munitions meetings

Attended Third Meeting of States Parties in Oslo, Norway in September 2012 and intersessional meetings in Geneva in April 2013

Key developments

Provided initial Article 7 report in August 2012 and an updated report in May 2013


The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 3 December 2008 and ratified on 8 September 2011. Afghanistan became a State Party on 1 March 2012.

In May 2013, Afghanistan reported that draft legislation banning antipersonnel landmines and cluster munitions has been developed and is being reviewed by the Ministry of Justice. Once the review is completed, the draft legislation will be sent to the cabinet and then parliament for review and approval.[1] The draft legislation was prepared with the assistance of a committee comprised of representatives from the Department of Mine Clearance, the ICRC, and mine action NGOs.[2]

Afghanistan submitted its initial Article 7 report for the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 30 August 2012 and its annual updated report on 19 May 2013, covering the calendar year 2012.[3]

Afghanistan participated in most meetings of the Oslo Process that created the convention, but despite actively supporting the ban objective it did not endorse the Wellington Declaration which would have committed it to participate fully in the formal negotiations of the convention; it also did not attend the negotiations in Dublin in May 2008, not even as an observer.[4] Afghanistan came to the Convention on Cluster Munitions Signing Conference in Oslo in December 2008 again only as an observer but unexpectedly signed the convention near the end of the conference after the representative announced that he had received instructions and authorization to do so.[5]

Since 2008, Afghanistan has played a positive and active role in the work of the convention. Afghanistan participated in the convention’s Third Meeting of States Parties in Oslo, Norway in September 2012, where it made statements on national legislation, victim assistance, clearance, and international cooperation and assistance. Afghanistan also attended intersessional meetings of the convention in Geneva in April 2013 where it co-chaired a technical workshop on victim assistance.

Afghanistan is a State Party to the Mine Ban Treaty. Afghanistan signed the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) in April 1981, but since it has never ratified, it is not party to the CCW.

Interpretive issues

Afghanistan has yet to provide its views on several important issues related to interpretation and implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. United States (US) Department of State cables made public by Wikileaks in 2011 outlined the US interpretation of the convention, but the Afghan government has not yet stated its views (see section on Foreign stockpiling). In a December 2008 State Department cable, the US outlined its concern over how Afghanistan would interpret the convention’s prohibition on transit and foreign stockpiling, as well as Article 21 on “interoperability” or joint military operations with states not party to the convention. According to the cable, the US has interpreted the convention as allowing “U.S. forces to store, transfer, and use U.S. cluster munitions in the territory of a State Party.”[6]

Use, production, and transfer

In its initial Article 7 report, Afghanistan declared that it “has not any production industry” for producing cluster munitions and explosive submunitions.[7] In the same report, Afghanistan also stated that no cluster munition or submunitions were transferred to or from the country and none had been retained.[8] In September 2011, Afghanistan stated that it “does not use, produce, or transfer Cluster Munitions in the country.”[9]

According to the second Article 7 report provided in May 2013, no munitions were retained, acquired, or transferred in 2012.[10]

Soviet forces used air-dropped and rocket-delivered cluster munitions during their invasion and occupation of Afghanistan from 1979–1989, while a non-state armed group used rocket-delivered cluster munitions during the civil war in the 1990s.[11] Between October 2001 and early 2002, US aircraft dropped 1,228 cluster bombs containing 248,056 bomblets in 232 strikes on locations throughout the country.[12] The Monitor is not aware of additional cluster munition strikes since that time.

Stockpiling and destruction

Although Afghanistan had previously stated that it did not possess a stockpile of cluster munitions, both its initial Article 7 report and the May 2013 report contain information in the stockpile destruction forms indicating significant destruction has taken place during the period from 2005–2011 and in 2012.[13] However, it does not appear that all of these items were actually stockpiled weapons under the jurisdiction and control of the Afghan government; rather, they were a combination of cluster munitions that had been abandoned by other combatants in the past and recently discovered, along with failed cluster munitions and unexploded submunitions. These are all considered cluster munition remnants under the Convention on Cluster Munitions and not stockpiled cluster munitions. The munitions were destroyed by the government or clearance operators. Some of the items may be residual stockpiles, but it is not possible to segregate the data presented and provide a clear accounting.

The initial Article 7 report details the destruction between 2005 and 2011 of over 271,000 submunitions of various types.[14] The Article 7 report submitted in May 2013 details the destruction of 724 munitions and submunitions discovered during 2012. It also provides an updated and more thorough accounting of the destruction of the various submunitions between 2005 and 2011, listing five types of munitions that were not included in the initial report.[15] There remain, however, some discrepancies between the two reports.[16] The figures presented in each report are detailed in the following table.

Initial Article 7 Report (2012)

Annual Update (2013)

271,786 “BLU munitions” destroyed prior to 2011

12,627 submunitions destroyed during 2011 (after 1 July 2011)

85,704 additional cluster munitions and submunitions destroyed between 2005 and 2011

402,302 “BLU munitions” destroyed prior to and during 2011 (“before entry into force for the State Party”)

116,262 additional cluster and submunitions were destroyed during the same time period

724 cluster munitions were destroyed during the 2012 calendar year

The May 2013 Article 7 report states that Afghanistan “has not officially announced completion of stockpiled Cluster Munitions programme however the Ministry of Defence verbally confirms that there is not any stockpile of cluster munitions left with Afghan National Forces.”[17] This would appear to indicate that while there are not any stocks under the jurisdiction and control of national forces, the government anticipates that it may discover additional stocks abandoned by other combatants in the past.

There was no clear accounting of former stockpiles in Afghanistan. In August 2010, Afghanistan’s Ministry of Defense informed the Monitor that it had no cluster munitions in its depots but that “about 113,196 items containing 29,559 kilograms” of old Soviet stocks had been destroyed.[18] Jane’s Information Group has listed Afghanistan as possessing KMG-U dispensers and RBK-250/275 cluster bombs.[19] Standard international reference sources also list it as possessing Grad 122mm and Uragan 220mm surface-to-surface rockets, but it is not known if these included versions with submunition payloads.[20]

Foreign stockpiling

Some International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops operating in Afghanistan have been equipped with cluster munitions, but the current status of any possible stockpiles is not known. According to the December 2008 State Department cable released by Wikileaks, “The United States currently has a very small stockpile of cluster munitions in Afghanistan.”[21] In February 2011, an Afghan human rights group called on the US government and NATO to reveal if it has stockpiled or has used cluster munitions in Afghanistan since the 2002 conflict.[22] In 2011, an ISAF spokesperson told media, “ISAF conducts operations in accordance with the law of armed conflict. All weapons, weapons systems, and munitions are reviewed for legality under international law.”[23] A spokesperson for the Mine Action Coordination Center of Afghanistan (MACCA) said, “We have no evidence of NATO/US using cluster munitions [in Afghanistan] since 2002.”[24] For several years, ISAF has had a policy against using cluster munitions.[25]


[1] Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form A, 30 August 2012,$file/Afghanistan+2011.pdf.

[2] The joint committee working to prepare draft implementing legislation for both the Mine Ban Treaty and the Convention on Cluster Munitions is comprised of the Department of Mine Clearance for the government, the Mine Action Coordination Center of Afghanistan (MACCA), the Mine Dog Center, Afghan Landmine Survivors' Organization (ALSO) and the ICRC. Statement of Afghanistan, Convention on Cluster Munitions Third Meeting of States Parties, 13 September 2012, See also Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form A, 30 August 2012,$file/Afghanistan+2011.pdf.

[3] The initial report covers calendar year 2011.

[4] For details on Afghanistan’s cluster munition policy and practice through early 2009, see Human Rights Watch and Landmine Action, Banning Cluster Munitions: Government Policy and Practice (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, May 2009), pp. 27–28.

[5] Two United States (US) Department of State cables subsequently made public by Wikileaks have shown how US officials had sought assurances from the highest levels of the Afghan government that Afghanistan would not join the convention; however, during the Oslo Signing Conference President Karzai decided that Afghanistan should sign the convention. “Afghan views on cluster munitions and Oslo process, US Department of State cable 08KABUL346 dated 12 February 2008, released by Wikileaks on 20 May 2011, munitions.

[6] According to the cable, “the United States reads the phrase ‘military cooperation and operations’ in Article 21 to include all preparations for future military operations, transit of cluster munitions through the territory of a State Party, and storage and use of cluster munitions on the territory of a State Party.” “Demarche to Afghanistan on cluster munitions,” US Department of State cable 08STATE134777 dated 29 December 2008, released by Wikileaks on 1 December 2010,

[7] Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form E, 30 August 2012,$file/Afghanistan+2011.pdf.

[8] Ibid., Form C, 30 August 2012.

[9] Statement by Dr. Zia Nezam, Senior Advisor, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Convention on Cluster Munitions Second Meeting of States Parties, Beirut, 14 September 2011,

[10] Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Forms B and C, 19 May 2013,$file/Afghananistan+CCM++2012.pdf.

[11]  CMC fact sheet prepared by Human Rights Watch (HRW), “Cluster Munitions in the Asia-Pacific Region,” October 2008.

[12] HRW, “Fatally Flawed: Cluster Bombs and their Use by the United States in Afghanistan,” Vol. 14, No. 7 (G), December 2002,

[14] Convention on Cluster Munitions, Article 7 Report, Form B, 30 August 2012,$file/Afghanistan+2011.pdf.

[15] Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form B, Part II, 19 May 2013,$file/Afghananistan+CCM++2012.pdf.

[16] There are discrepancies between parts II of Form B in the two reports with different numbers reported for the same categories and time frames. Also, in both the 2012 and 2013 reports, the part II of Form B refers to the 2012 calendar year and document the destruction of cluster munitions that occurred between 2005 and 2011.

[17] Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form B, 19 May 2013,$file/Afghananistan+CCM++2012.pdf.

[18] Information provided by the Chief of Ammunition Management, Ministry of Defense to MACCA, received by the Monitor in an email from MACCA, 9 August 2010.

[19] Colin King, ed., Jane’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal 2008, CD-edition, 15 January 2008 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 2008).

[20] Ibid; and International Institute for Strategic Studies, The Military Balance 2005–2006 (London: Routledge, 2005), p. 233.

[21] “Demarche to Afghanistan on cluster munitions,” US Department of State cable 08STATE134777 dated 29 December 2008, released by Wikileaks on 1 December 2010,

[22] Afghanistan Rights Monitor, “Annual Report: Civilian Casualties of War, January–December 2010,” p. 15.

[23] “Afghanistan: US military denies keeping, using cluster munitions,” IRIN, 2 February 2011.

[24] Ibid.

[25] In July 2010, Poland confirmed to the Monitor that the Polish Military Contingent in Afghanistan “has been equipped with 98mm mortars and the appropriate cluster munitions,” while noting, “To date, cluster munitions have never been used in combat in Afghanistan” by Polish forces. Poland also confirmed that the ISAF policy of no use of cluster munitions remains in effec, and stated that this policy has been incorporated into Polish rules of engagement. Letter DPB 2591/16/10/80613 from Marek Szcygiel, Deputy Director, Security Policy Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland, 16 July 2010.