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Last Updated: 23 August 2014

Cluster Munition Ban Policy


The Republic of Sudan has not acceded to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

In an April 2014 meeting with the CMC, a government representative said that Sudan is willing join the convention under certain geopolitical circumstances, namely “if bordering countries follow suit.”[1] Previously, in 2012, an official said that the government of Sudan was consulting internally as well as with neighboring countries on the matter of joining the convention.[2]

Sudan has expressed its intent to join the ban convention since 2010.[3] In September 2012, Sudan informed States Parties of its “renewed” commitment to the convention and respect for the ban on cluster munitions.[4]

Sudan participated in the Oslo Process that produced the convention and joined the consensus adoption of the convention at the conclusion of the formal negotiations in Dublin in May 2008.[5] At the Convention on Cluster Munitions Signing Conference in Oslo in December 2008, Sudan stated its intent to sign as soon as possible after logistical and national measures had been completed.[6]

Sudan has continued to engage in the work of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, despite not joining. It has participated as an observer in every Meeting of States Parties of the convention, except for the Fourth Meeting of State Parties in Lusaka, Zambia in September 2013. Sudan attended the convention’s intersessional meetings in Geneva in 2011 and 2012 but was not present at those held in 2013 or April 2014.

Sudan is a State Party to the Mine Ban Treaty. Sudan signed the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) on 10 April 1981 but is not party as it never ratified.

Production, transfer, and stockpiling

The Monitor has no indications of any past production or export of cluster munitions by Sudan. In April 2014, a Sudan Mine Action Office representative reiterated that Sudan doesn’t produce, use, or stockpile cluster munitions.[7]

However, it appears that in the past Sudan imported cluster munitions from a number of countries. Recent allegations of use and contamination from cluster munition remnants indicate that Sudan has used and may still stockpile the weapons.

In February 2014, a report by a UN Panel of Experts published photographs taken in March 2013 that show several RBK-500 cluster bombs lying in the open alongside other weapons at El Fasher airport in North Darfur state, where Sudan’s armed forces maintain a forward operating base immediately adjacent to the civilian flight operations. According to the report, “the Panel has evidence of previous use of cluster munitions in Darfur. Render-safe operations have taken place on such munitions as recently as 2012. The Panel does not, however, have evidence of the exact dates of use of the munitions. It continues to investigate.” The panel said it had “observed fluctuating stock levels at the ammunition storage area, indicative of the routine use (for either operations or training) and resupply of ammunition into Darfur by the national armed forces” and warned of a “real explosive risk” if the storage facility at the airport continues to be used to store weapons.[8]

Jane’s Information Group also reports that KMGU dispensers, which deploy submunitions, are in service with the country’s air force.[9] Sudan also possesses Grad, Egyptian-produced Sakr, and Chinese-produced Type-81 122mm surface-to-surface rockets, but it is not known if these include versions with submunition payloads.[10]


Sudan’s military has repeatedly denied using and stockpiling cluster munitions, but recent allegations of use and contamination of cluster munition remnants indicate that it has used and may still stockpile the weapons.[11] In May 2012, an unnamed Sudanese military spokesperson reportedly said, “We don’t use cluster munitions in South Kordofan, we have no ties to such weapons. There is no need to use these kind of weapons to begin with, the fighting is in open space, the renegades don’t have concrete fortifications.”[12]

Cluster Munition Monitor 2012 reported two allegations of cluster munition use by the armed forces of Sudan in the first half of 2012 in Troji and Ongolo in Southern Kordofan, a state bordering South Sudan that has seen fighting between the Sudan People’s Liberation Army North (SPLM-N) and the Sudan Armed Forces since mid-2011:

·         An independent journalist found dud explosive submunitions in Troji identified as Chinese Type-81 dual-purpose improved conventional munitions (DPICM) that local residents said were used by the government of Sudan in an attack on the town on 29 February 2012.[13] The Monitor was not able to independently confirm when the cluster munitions were used or by whom.

·         The Independent newspaper in the United Kingdom published photos on 24 May 2012 showing a failed cluster munition in the settlement of Ongolo that residents said had been dropped from a government aircraft on 15 April 2012.[14] The weapon was identified as a Soviet-made RBK-500 cluster bomb containing AO-2.5RT explosive submunitions, but it was not possible to independently confirm new use of cluster munitions or who was responsible for the use.[15]

The incidents resulted in increased international attention, including calls by the CMC and others for Sudan to investigate the allegations, but Sudanese officials offered denials in a number of venues.[16]

The Monitor has not been able to independently confirm a report by a network of citizen journalists that two cluster bombs were dropped from aircraft on the village of Lado in Southern Kordofan on 18 April 2013.[17]

Numerous independent sources have documented the presence of cluster munitions remnants that indicate Sudanese government forces sporadically used air-dropped cluster munitions in southern Sudan between 1995 and 2000, including Chilean-made PM-1 submunitions.[18] Landmine Action photographed a Rockeye-type cluster bomb with Chinese language external markings in Yei in October 2006. Additionally, clearance personnel in Sudan have identified a variety of submunitions, including the Spanish-manufactured HESPIN 21, United States-produced M42 and Mk-118 (Rockeye), and Soviet-manufactured PTAB-1.5.[19]


[1] CMC meeting with Dr. Ahmed E Yousif, VA Officer, National Mine Action Office, Geneva, 8 April 2014.

[2] Statement of Sudan, Convention on Cluster Munitions Intersessional Meetings, Geneva, 19 April 2012.

[3] In August 2010, State Minister to the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Dr. Mutrif Siddiq, expressed Sudan’s intent to join the convention by its First Meeting of States Parties in November 2010. See “Sudan Joins Enforcement of Convention on Cluster Munitions,” Sudan Vision, Khartoum, 3 August 2010. In April 2010, the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Sudan, Gen. Mohamed Abd al-Qadir, stated that Sudan was ready to join the convention. See statement by Gen. Abd al-Qadir, Armed Forces of Sudan, Sudan Mine Action Day Celebration, Khartoum, 1 April 2010.

[4] Statement of Sudan, Convention on Cluster Munitions Third Meeting of States Parties, Oslo, 13 September 2012.

[5] For details on Sudan’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. 243–244.

6 Statement of Sudan, Convention on Cluster Munitions Signing Conference, Oslo, 3 December 2008. Notes by Landmine Action. Officials told the CMC that Sudan intended to sign, but the Minister of Foreign Affairs was unexpectedly unable to come and no one else had authorization to sign.

[7] CMC meeting with Dr. Ahmed E Yousif, VA Officer, National Mine Action Office, Geneva, 8 April 2014.

[8] UN Security Council, “Report of the Panel of Experts on the Sudan established pursuant to resolution 1591 (2005),” S/2014/87, 11 February 2014, p. 23 and 147.

[9] Robert Hewson, ed., Jane’s Air Launched Weapons, Issue 44 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 2004), p. 846; and Colin King, ed., Jane’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal 2007–2008, CD-edition, 10 January 2008 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 2008).

[10] International Institute for Strategic Studies, The Military Balance 2011 (London: Routledge, 2011), p. 443.

[11] In 2010, the Ministry of Defense stated that Sudan does not possess any stockpiles of cluster munitions, does not produce the weapon, and has “never used cluster munitions, not even in the wars that have occurred in the south and east of the country and in Darfur.” Statement of Sudan, Convention on Cluster Munitions First Meeting of States Parties, Vientiane, 10 November 2010. Notes by the CMC. In April 2010, the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Sudan stated that Sudan does not possess cluster munitions. Statement by Gen. Mohamed Abd al-Qadir, Armed Forces of Sudan, Sudan Mine Action Day Celebration, Khartoum, 1 April 2010. See also, “Sudan armed forces deny possession of cluster bombs,” BBC Monitoring Middle East (English), 2 April 2010, citing original source as Akhir Lahzah (Khartoum newspaper in Arabic), 2 April 2010. In May 2012, a spokesperson for Sudan’s armed forces, Col. al-Sawarmi Khalid Saad, was quoted in the local media stating with respect to cluster munitions: “We never use them in our military operations and we don’t have them to begin with.” “Sudan’s army denies using cluster munitions in South Kordofan,” Sudan Tribune, Khartoum, 28 May 2012.

[12] David McKenzie, “New evidence shows Sudan is dropping cluster munitions onto civilian areas,” CNN International, 31 May 2012.

[13] HRW Press Release, “Sudan: Cluster Bomb Found in Conflict Zone,” 25 May 2012.

[15] HRW Press Release, “Sudan: Cluster Bomb Found in Conflict Zone,” 25 May 2012.

[16] At the intersessional meetings of the convention in April 2012, its representative stated, “Sudan is not a producing country and does not own stockpilings, [sic] and did not use it before, neither in the far past, nor the near one. So any accusations to [sic] my country in this field are groundless.” Statement of Sudan, Convention on Cluster Munitions Intersessional Meetings, Geneva, 19 April 2012. See also CMC letter to Ali Ahmed Karti, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sudan, 8 March 2012. There was no response from the government as of 15 June 2012.

[17] According to the report “some of the internal explosives in the cluster bombs did not explode” and were scattered in the village. Nuba Reports, 22 April 2013.

[18]  Virgil Wiebe and Titus Peachey, “Clusters of Death: The Mennonite Central Committee Cluster Bomb Report,” Chapter 4, July 2000.

[19] Handicap International, Circle of Impact: The Fatal Footprint of Cluster Munitions on People and Communities (Brussels: HI, May 2007), p. 55.