Last Updated: 02 September 2013

Cluster Munition Ban Policy

The Republic of the Union of Myanmar has not acceded to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.[1]

Myanmar has never made a public statement detailing its position on joining the convention. In 2010, a government representative informed the Monitor that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was reviewing the convention.[2]

At the UN General Assembly (UNGA) First Committee on Disarmament and International Security in November 2012, Myanmar described cluster munitions and antipersonnel landmines as “the main causes of maiming, killing and terrorizing innocent civilian populations.” It stated, “Indiscriminate and excessive use of cluster munitions and anti-personnel mines not only cause damage to the societies but also hamper the development efforts of the government.”[3] In 2009, a government official informed a regional conference on cluster munitions that Myanmar “criticizes the use of such weapons with indiscriminate area effect and which can cause humanitarian consequences.”[4]

Myanmar attended one regional meeting of the Oslo Process that created the Convention on Cluster Munitions (Xieng Khouang, Lao PDR in October 2008) and participated in a regional conference on cluster munitions in Bali, Indonesia in November 2009.

Myanmar participated as an observer in the convention’s First Meeting of States Parties in Vientiane, Lao PDR in November 2010 and the Third Meeting of States Parties in Oslo, Norway in September 2012. For the first time it attended the convention’s intersessional meetings in Geneva in April 2013. Myanmar did not make any statements at these meetings.

Myanmar is not party to the Mine Ban Treaty or the Convention on Conventional Weapons.

Use, production, transfer, and stockpiling

In November 2009 Myanmar stated, “We do not use cluster munitions, develop, produce, otherwise acquire, retain or transfer to anyone, directly or indirectly, nor assist, encourage or induce anyone to engage in any activity prohibited under this Convention.”[5]

There are indications that Myanmar government forces may have used weapons prohibited by the Convention on Cluster Munitions in the conflict with the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in Kachin state in the north of the country in late 2012 and early 2013.

The KIA claimed that the Myanmar army units stationed at Gangdau Yang used cluster munitions against KIA forces in a 26 January 2013 attack at Hka Ya Bum, “a hill top of strategic significance” five miles west of the town of Laiza in southern Kachin state.[6] On 19 April 2013, the Deputy Secretary of the Kachin National Council provided photographs to the CMC showing an unknown type of air-dropped bomb that it said “confirmed that the World War-Two era 20 pound fragmentation bombs were used during the airstrikes in the KIA’s strategic outposts between 14 December 2012 and 08 January 2013 by the Myanmar Air Force.” According to the Kachin National Council “this type has never been used in Burma’s civil war before.”[7] Human Rights Watch (HRW) has received a separate set of photos showing what appears to be the same remnants being carried in a vehicle at a location not known to be the scene of the attack.[8]

HRW has confirmed airstrikes and shelling on Laiza by Myanmar forces in December 2012 and January 2013.[9] It is not possible, however, to make a definitive determination that the “cluster adapter” and 20-pound fragmentation bombs shown in the photographs are cluster munitions as defined in the Convention on Cluster Munitions.[10] Nor is it possible to independently confirm that those weapons were used by Myanmar forces at the times and locations alleged.

The government of Myanmar initially denied and then later admitted to shelling and bombing Laiza.[11]


[1] On 21 October 2010, the ruling military junta announced the change of the country’s name as well as its flag and national anthem. The military regime changed the name from Burma to Myanmar in 1989, but many ethnic groups in the country and a number of states still prefer to use the name Burma.

[2] Interview with Aye Thidar Myo, Assistant Director, International Organizations and Economic Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in Vientiane, 10 November 2010.

[3] Statement of Myanmar, UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 1 November 2012,

[4] Statement by Ye Minn Thein, Assistant Director, International Organizations and Economic Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Regional Conference on the Promotion and Universalization of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, Bali, 16 November 2009.

[5] Ibid.

[6] “Burma army uses cluster bombs to take key KIO position near Laiza,” Kachin News Group, 26 January 2013,

[7] The photographs were contained in an email sent to the CMC from Hkun Htoi, Deputy Secretary, Kachin National Council, 19 April 2013.

[8] Email from Bertil Linter, 25 March 2013.

[9] HRW also documented the attacks on Laiza on 14 January 2013, which killed three civilians. See HRW press statement, “Burma: Halt Indiscriminate Attacks in Kachin State,” 17 January 2013,

[10] The photographs show a cluster munition canister or “rack” that appears to be a fabricated copy of the US-produced M1 cluster adapter. The small fragmentation bombs are of a more modern design and marking than World War II-era munitions, but a number of arms experts have not been able to define the type or origin.

[11] According to a January 2013 statement of HRW, “On January 14, government spokesman Ye Thut denied that government shells struck Laiza. The previous week, the Office of the President publicly denied that the army conducted any airstrikes against the KIA with helicopters and fighter jets, but then later backtracked when news reports showed video footage of the attacks.” HRW press statement, “Burma: Halt Indiscriminate Attacks in Kachin State,” 17 January 2013,