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Country Reports
Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone was one of four countries that both signed and ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions in Oslo on 3 December 2008.

Sierra Leone is not believed to have used, produced, stockpiled, or transferred cluster munitions. Sierra Leone has said that Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) peacekeepers from Nigeria used cluster munitions in Sierra Leone.[1] According to sources close to the Sierra Leonean military, in 1997 Nigerian forces operating as ECOMOG peacekeepers dropped two cluster bombs on Lokosama, near Port Loko. ECOMOG Force Commander General Victor Malu denied these reports.[2] According to media reports, Nigerian ECOMOG peacekeepers used French-produced BLG-66 Belouga cluster bombs in an attack on the eastern town of Kenema in Sierra Leone in 1997.[3]

Sierra Leone did not attend the first two meetings of the Oslo Process in Oslo and Lima, but participated in the international treaty preparatory conferences in Vienna and Wellington, as well as the formal negotiations in Dublin in May 2008. It also attended the African regional conferences in Livingstone (March/April 2008) and Kampala (September 2008).

At the Vienna conference, Sierra Leone declared its support for the Oslo Declaration committing states to conclude a ban treaty in 2008. It referred to its experience as an affected country, saying that it was still recovering and would need international support.[4] It also called for enhanced victim assistance.[5]

At the Wellington conference, Sierra Leone stated its support for “a total ban and nothing less.”

It opposed any exclusions and exemptions from the definition, and rejected technical fixes. It opposed the notion of a transition period during which states could continue to use cluster munitions. It again appealed for greater assistance for clearance and victim assistance programs.[6]

During the Dublin negotiations, Sierra Leone reiterated its position on the “primacy” of support to victims and called for a broad definition of a cluster munition victim that would specifically recognize all those injured or killed, as well as their families and their communities.[7] Sierra Leone again argued strongly against a transition period, stating that the aim of the convention was to stigmatize a class of weapons and a transition period would sanitize, rather than stigmatize the use of cluster munitions.[8]

Sierra Leone was able to both sign the convention and deposit its instrument of ratification simultaneously at the Oslo Signing Conference on 3 December 2008. Sierra Leone declared that cluster munitions would have no place in the 21st century and beyond.[9]

Sierra Leone is party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW), and ratified Protocol V on Explosive Remnants of War on 30 September 2004. It has not been an active participant in CCW discussions on cluster munitions in recent years.

[1] Statement of Sierra Leone, Vienna Conference on Cluster Munitions, 5 December 2008. Notes by CMC/WILPF. ECOMOG was established in 1990 to intervene in the war in Liberia.

[2] “IRIN-WA Weekly Roundup, 10/3/97,” IRIN, 10 March 1997, www.africa.upenn.edu.

[3] “10 Killed in Nigerian raid in eastern Sierra Leone,” Agence France-Presse, 11 December 1997; and Human Rights Watch, “Cluster Munition Information Chart,” March 2009, www.hrw.org.

[4] Statement of Sierra Leone, Vienna Conference, 5 December 2008. Notes by CMC/WILPF.

[5] Statement of Sierra Leone, Session on Victim Assistance, Vienna Conference, 6 December 2008. Notes by CMC/WILPF.

[6] Statement by Ibrahim Sorie, Member of Parliament, Wellington Conference on Cluster Munitions, 19 February 2008. See also, Statement of Sierra Leone, Session on Definitions, Wellington Conference, 19 February 2008. Notes by CMC.

[7] Statement of Sierra Leone, Committee of the Whole on Articles 4 and 5, Dublin Diplomatic Conference on Cluster Munitions, 20 May 2008. Notes by Landmine Action. Statement of Sierra Leone, Informal Discussions on Victim Assistance, Dublin Diplomatic Conference, 21 May 2008. Notes by Landmine Action.

[8] Statement of Sierra Leone, Dublin Diplomatic Conference, 23 May 2008. Notes by Landmine Action.

[9] Statement by Dr. Earnest Bai Koroma, on behalf of the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Convention on Cluster Munitions Signing Conference, Oslo, 3 December 2008.