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Last Updated: 09 September 2013

Cluster Munition Ban Policy

The Kingdom of Thailand has not acceded to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Thailand has indicated that it is considering joining the convention. In September 2012, a Thai official informed States Parties that “During the past few years, we have carried out a series of activities…in order to prepare Thailand for accession to the Convention.”[1] In June 2011, Thailand stated that it hopes to accede to the convention in “the near future.”[2] On 14 February 2011, Thailand’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Kasit Piromya told the UN Security Council: “We are seriously considering joining the Convention on Cluster Munitions.”[3]

Yet at the UN General Assembly (UNGA) First Committee on Disarmament and International Security in October 2012, Thailand stated that it “fully supports the international effort to ban inhumane weapons [including] certain types of cluster munitions.”[4] It is not clear if this emphasis on prohibiting only “certain” cluster munitions represents a new policy.[5]

After Thailand used cluster munitions in early February 2011 during its border conflict with Cambodia, Thailand stated that it “fully understands the concerns raised” by States Parties over its use of cluster munitions and promised to “remain committed to engaging with the international community on this issue”[6] (see section on Use below).

Thailand participated in most of the diplomatic conferences of the Oslo Process that created the Convention on Cluster Munitions, but attended the formal negotiations in May 2008 only as an observer and did not sign the convention when it was opened for signature in Oslo in December 2008.[7]

Since 2008, Thailand has continued to show strong interest in the Convention on Cluster Munitions. It has attended all of the convention’s meetings of States Parties as an observer, including the Third Meeting of States Parties in Oslo, Norway in September 2012, where it made a statement. Thailand has also participated in every intersessional meeting of the convention in Geneva, including those held in April 2013.

Thailand voted in favor of a UNGA resolution on 15 May 2013 that strongly condemned “the use by the Syrian authorities of...cluster munitions.”[8]

On 21 August 2012, Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) convened a briefing for government officials on the Convention on Cluster Munitions in Bangkok. NPA representatives also distributed an information pack, including a Thai language translation of the convention prepared in collaboration with Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to all members of Thailand’s parliament.[9] This followed a two-day interministerial workshop on the convention that was organized by NPA in cooperation with the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Bangkok in August 2011.[10]

Thailand is a State Party to the Mine Ban Treaty. It is not party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons.

Production, transfer, and stockpiling

Thailand is not known to have ever produced or exported cluster munitions.

Thailand possesses a stockpile of cluster munitions, but the composition and status are not known. The United States (US) supplied Thailand with 500 Rockeye and 200 CBU-71 air-dropped cluster bombs at some point between 1970 and 1995.[11] Thailand also possesses French-made 155 mm NR 269 ERFB extended-range artillery projectiles, each containing 56 M42/M46[12] type dual purpose improved conventional munition (DPICM) submunitions.[13] Based on the types of submunitions identified in Cambodia after artillery strikes, Thailand also possesses a cluster munition that delivers M85 self-destructing DPICM submunitions.

Thailand has said that it does not intend to acquire more stocks of cluster munitions.[14] NPA has been providing the government with advice and information on efficient solutions for the destruction of Thailand’s stockpile of cluster munitions.[15]


In recent years, Thai and Cambodian military forces have engaged in several brief skirmishes over disputed parts of the border near Preah Vihear temple, resulting in claims and counter-claims of new antipersonnel mine use.[16] In February 2011, the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC), a government entity, claimed that Thai military forces had fired cluster munitions during fighting on the border at Preah Vihear.[17] Separate missions by CMC members in February and April 2011 confirmed that cluster munitions were used by Thailand on Cambodian territory, including M42/M46 and M85-type DPICM submunitions.[18] The CMC has urged Thailand to provide detailed information on the cluster munition strikes and has urged Cambodia and Thailand to join the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Thailand’s use of cluster munitions elicited a strong international response.[19] Thailand responded that it “strictly adhered to the applicable international humanitarian law that all states are obliged to prevent unnecessary loss of civilian lives.”[20]


[1] Statement of Thailand, Convention on Cluster Munitions Third Meeting of States Parties, Oslo, 11 September 2012, www.clusterconvention.org/files/2012/09/Thailand-Statement1.pdf.

[2] Statement of Thailand, Convention on Cluster Munitions Intersessional Meetings, Geneva, 27 June 2011. Notes by the CMC.

[3] Statement by Kasit Piromya, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand, UN Security Council, New York, 14 February 2011.

[4] Statement of Thailand, UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 24 October 2012, www.reachingcriticalwill.org/images/documents/Disarmament-fora/1com/1com12/statements/24Oct_Thailand.pdf.

[5] In February 2011, Thai officials initially denied the Thai army’s use of NR269 projectiles containing M42/M46 and M85-type dual-purpose improved conventional munition (DPICM) submunitions. A Thai army spokesperson, Col. Veerachon Sukondhadhpatipak, said Thailand had only deployed conventional artillery and noted, “This is just a normal one, not something against international law or standards.” See “Border still in crosshairs,” Phnom Penh Post, 7 February 2011; and “Sansern: No cluster munitions used,” Bangkok Post, 10 February 2011.

[6] Statement of Thailand, Convention on Cluster Munitions Intersessional Meetings, Geneva, 27 June 2011. Notes by the CMC.

[7] For details on Thailand’s 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. 245–246.

[8] “The situation in the Syrian Arab Republic,” UNGA Resolution A/67/L.63, 15 May 2013, www.un.org/News/Press/docs//2013/ga11372.doc.htm.

[9] Email from Shushira Chonhenchob, Programme and Advocacy Officer, NPA Thailand, 11 July 2013. See Also www.facebook.com/NPAinThailand?ref=hl - !/NPAinThailand.

[10] Monitor meeting with Thailand delegation to the Convention on Cluster Munitions Second Meeting of States Parties, Beirut, 14 September 2011.

[11] US Defense Security Assistance Agency, Department of Defense, “Cluster Bomb Exports under FMS, FY1970–FY1995,” obtained by Human Rights Watch in a Freedom of Information Act request, 28 November 1995.

[12] This specific type of submunition is also called a “grenade.” A certain amount of contradictory information exists publicly about the specific type of DPICM submunition contained in the NR269 projectile. France lists it as an “M42 type” in its initial Article 7 report in January 2011. Other international ammunition reference publications list the type as M46. There is little outward visual difference between the two types: the M46 DPICM is heavier/thicker and has a smooth interior surface. A portion of the interior of the M42 DPICM body is scored for greater fragmentation.

[13] NPA, “Impact Assessment Report: Preah Vihear Province, Cambodia,” undated, but circulated 3 April 2011. Both Canadian and South African companies were involved in the development of this weapon. “155 mm ERFB cargo projectiles,” Janes, articles.janes.com.

[14] Interview with Cherdkiat Atthakor, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangkok, 24 February 2010; and statement of Thailand, Convention on Cluster Munitions Signing Conference, Oslo, 4 December 2008. Notes by Landmine Action.

[15] Email from Lee Moroney, Programme Manager, NPA, 17 August 2010.

[16] See ICBL, Landmine Monitor Report 2009: Toward a Mine-Free World (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, October 2009), pp. 243–244 and pp. 719–710; and ICBL, Landmine Monitor 2010: Toward a Mine-Free World (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, October 2010).

[17] CMAC press release, “CMAC Mine Risk Education (MRE) teams to raise awareness of mines, ERW and Cluster Munitions for the communities in PreahVihear,” 10 February 2011, www.cmac.gov.kh/tblnews.php?id=68.

[18] For full analysis of the 2011 use incident, see CMC, Cluster Munition Monitor 2011 (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, October 2011), pp. 319–320. The missions were conducted by Cambodia Campaign to Ban Landmines and Cluster Bombs (on 9 February and 12 February) and NPA (1–2 April). CMC press release, “CMC condemns Thai use of cluster munitions in Cambodia,” 5 April 2011.

[19] For example, the Beirut Progress Report issued by the convention’s Second Meeting of States Parties stated: “Several states have reported actions reacting to the instance of use of cluster munitions by Thailand in 2011. This includes individual and joint demarches, support for fact-finding missions and condemnation of the use in public statements. The President of the Convention has also issued a statement, stating his concern over the use of cluster munitions. States and civil society have reported on how they follow up, in terms of actions to increase the understanding and knowledge of the Convention. States and civil society have had a good dialogue with Thailand.” “Draft Beirut Progress Report: Monitoring progress in implementing the Vientiane Action Plan from the First up to the Second Meeting of States Parties,” CCM/MSP/2011/WP.5, 25 August 2011,www.clusterconvention.org/files/2011/05/Beirut-Progress-Report-ODS-upload4.pdf.

[20] Statement of Thailand, Convention on Cluster Munitions Second Meeting of States Parties, Beirut, 14 September 2011, www.clusterconvention.org/files/2011/09/statement_thailand_updated.pdf.