Last Updated: 23 August 2014

Cluster Munition Ban Policy


The Republic of Uganda signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 3 December 2008.

In February 2014, a Ugandan diplomat said the ratification process is underway and requires Cabinet approval before it can be referred to parliament for adoption.[1] Previously, in May 2013, Uganda stated that draft ratification legislation was being considered by the Solicitor General’s office and would then be submitted to the Cabinet.[2] Ugandan officials have provided regular updates on the status of ratification since 2010.[3]

Uganda has stated that national implementation legislation for the Convention on Cluster Munitions will be prepared after ratification.[4]

Uganda participated extensively in the Oslo Process that produced the Convention on Cluster Munitions and hosted a regional meeting on cluster munitions in Kampala in September 2008.

Uganda has continued to actively engage in the work of the convention, despite not ratifying. It has participated in all of the convention’s Meeting of States Parties, including the Fourth Meeting of States Parties in Lusaka in September 2013. Uganda has attended every intersessional meeting of the convention in Geneva, except in April 2014. Uganda participated in regional meetings on the convention held in Ghana in 2012 and Togo in 2013.

Uganda was absent from intersessional meetings held in April 2014 where its possible involvement in recent use of cluster munitions in South Sudan was discussed. (See Use section.)

Uganda is a State Party to the Mine Ban Treaty. It is also party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons.

Use, production, transfer, and stockpiling

Uganda has stated on several occasions that it does not stockpile cluster munitions and has never used, produced, or transferred the weapons.[5]

Until Uganda becomes a State Party and provides an Article 7 transparency report formally declaring the status of its stockpile, the Monitor will continue to list Uganda as a stockpiler of cluster munitions. This is due to recent use allegations (see Use in South Sudan below) and statements by government officials and operators confirming the clearance of cluster munition remnants.[6]

Photographs and information provided to Human Rights Watch (HRW) by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) of remnants cleared by mine action teams in northern Uganda near the then-Sudan border indicate that RBK-250-275 AO-1SCh cluster bombs were apparently used in the past during the years-long fighting between the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and the Ugandan military. It is not clear who used the cluster munitions or precisely when or how many munitions were used. On several occasions, Uganda has denied that its armed forces ever used cluster munitions and said the LRA was responsible.[7] The Uganda Mine Action Centre (UMAC) has informed the Monitor that no unexploded submunitions remain.[8]

Use in South Sudan

In early 2014, evidence emerged showing that cluster munitions had been used recently during conflict between the opposition forces loyal to South Sudan’s former Vice President Riek Machar and Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) government forces, with air support for the SPLA provided by Uganda.

During the week of 7 February 2014, UN mine action experts found the remnants of at least eight RBK-250-275 cluster bombs and an unknown quantity of intact AO-1SCh submunitions by a stretch of road 16 kilometers south of Bor, in an area not known to be contaminated by remnants prior to mid-December 2013.[9] On 12 February 2014, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted the discovery of the cluster munition remnants near Bor and condemned the use of cluster bombs in the South Sudan conflict, but did not indicate if an investigation would be undertaken or who the UN believed was responsible.[10]

Both South Sudanese and Ugandan forces are believed to possess the air power to deliver air-dropped cluster munitions, such as the RBK-250-275 AO-1SCh cluster bomb, while the opposition forces are not believed to possess these means of delivery.

The commander of the Ugandan forces in South Sudan, Brig. Muhanga Kayanja, acknowledged in February 2014 that his forces used helicopters to provide close aerial support to ground troops, but did not use cluster bombs, or any bombs, during the South Sudan conflict.[11] A spokesman for the Uganda People’s Defence Force told media on 19 February that the Ugandan army would not take part in any investigation into the incident as responsibility rests with the South Sudanese government and international experts.[12] In May 2014, Uganda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Okello Oryem denied reports of Uganda’s use of cluster munitions in Bor as “rubbish and unfounded” and stated, “There is no way Uganda can be involved in using cluster bombs because she is a signatory” to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.[13]

South Sudan has denied using cluster munitions in the conflict and also denied Ugandan use of the weapons.[14] On 27 May 2014, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2155, which noted “with serious concern reports of the indiscriminate use of cluster munitions” in Jonglei State in February 2014 and urged “all parties to refrain from similar such use in the future.”[15]


[1] Interview with Matata Twaha, Second Secretary Ugandan Mission in Geneva, Geneva, 20 February 2014.

[2] Statement of Uganda, Lomé Regional Seminar on the Universalization of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, Lomé, Togo, 22 May 2013.

[3] See for example: statement of Uganda, Accra Regional Conference on the Universalization of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, Accra, 28 May 2012; statement of Uganda, Convention on Cluster Munitions Second Meeting of States Parties, Beirut, 13 September 2011; and statement of Uganda, Convention on Cluster Munitions First Meeting of States Parties, Vientiane, 9 November 2010.

[4] Statement of Uganda, Convention on Cluster Munitions Second Meeting of States Parties, Beirut, 13 September 2011; and statement of Uganda, Lomé Regional Seminar on the Universalization of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, Lomé, Togo, 22 May 2013.

[5] In April 2012, a government official informed an intersessional meeting of the convention that “Uganda has never manufactured, acquired, stockpiled, transferred or used cluster munitions.” Statement of Uganda, Convention on Cluster Munitions Intersessional Meetings, Geneva, 18 April 2012. In September 2011, Uganda stated that it has never used, produced, transferred, or acquired cluster munitions. Statement of Uganda, Convention on Cluster Munitions Second Meeting of States Parties, Beirut, 13 September 2011. In June 2009, a senior official said that Uganda does not have any stockpiled cluster munitions. Presentation by Maj.-Gen. J. F. Oketta, Office of the Prime Minister, Berlin Conference on the Destruction of Cluster Munitions, 25 June 2009, slides 2 and 22.

[6] See for example, statement by Amb. Cissy Taliwaku, Deputy Head of Mission, Permanent Mission of Uganda to the UN in Geneva, to the Belgrade Conference for States Affected by Cluster Munitions, 4 October 2007. Notes by the CMC.

[7] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for the period 2 April 2008 to 2 April 2009), Form J; “UGANDA: Landmine survivors welcome ban on cluster bombs,” IRIN (Gulu), 4 June 2008; Paul Amoru, “Cluster bombs conference on,” Daily Monitor, 29 September 2008; and interview with Maj.-Gen. J. F. Oketta, Office of the Prime Minister, in Berlin, 25 June 2009.

[8] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Vicent Woboya, Director, UMAC, 1 April 2010.

[9] The UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) report noted “UNMAS found physical evidence of the use of cluster munitions in the Malek area of Bor County, approximately 16 kilometres south of Bor along the Juba-Bor Road.”

[10] Statement of UN Secretary-General on South Sudan, New York, 12 February 2014. In May 2014, the UNMAS director informed the CMC that while cluster munitions had been used in South Sudan, it was not possible to determine who was responsible for the use. Email from UNMAS, 13 May 2014.

[11] HRW Press Release, “South Sudan: Investigate New Cluster Bomb Use,” 15 February 2014.

[12]Ugandan army won’t take part in cluster bomb investigation,” Sudan Tribune, 19 February 2014.

[13]Uganda denies it used cluster bombs in South Sudan,” The Africa Report, 12 May 2014.

[14] “South Sudan has no capacity to use or stockpile cluster bombs; neither do the Ugandan forces who have been assisting with security in South Sudan,” South Sudan government army spokesman Philip Aguer told IBTimes. “The war is not intensive enough to require the use of cluster bombs.” See Jacey Fortin, “The Bad Bomb: Cluster Munitions, Cold Cases And A Case of Blame Game in South Sudan,” International Business Times, 12 March 2014.

[15] See UN Security Council press statement, “Security Council, Adopting Resolution 2155 (2014), extends mandate of mission in South Sudan,” 27 May 2014.