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Country Reports


The Republic of Uganda signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions in Oslo on 3 December 2008. The status of the ratification process is unknown.

Uganda is a country contaminated from the use of cluster munitions, and has stockpiled the weapon. Uganda participated extensively in the Oslo Process and played a leadership role in hosting one of two African regional meetings.

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

Cluster Munition Ban Policy

While Uganda did not attend the initial conference to launch the Oslo Process in Oslo in February 2007, it participated in all three international diplomatic conferences to develop the convention text, in Lima, Vienna, and Wellington, as well as the formal negotiations in Dublin in May 2008. It also participated in the Belgrade conference for affected states in October 2007, and the regional conference in Livingstone in March/April 2008. It hosted a regional meeting in Kampala in September 2008.

In Lima, Uganda stated, “Our participation in this process is a clear indication that the government of Uganda recognizes the grave consequences caused by the use of cluster munitions and the need to address the humanitarian challenges.”[1] At the Belgrade conference, Uganda announced that the country’s stockpile of cluster munitions would be destroyed.[2] At the Vienna conference, Uganda offered to host a regional meeting of the Oslo Process.[3]

In Wellington, Uganda joined other African states in opposing a number of proposals perceived as weakening the draft text. It endorsed the Wellington Declaration, indicating its intention to participate fully in the final negotiations in Dublin. At the Livingstone conference, Uganda endorsed the Livingstone Declaration, calling for a comprehensive convention with a prohibition that should be “total and immediate.”[4] It announced it would host an Africa-wide meeting in September to rally regional support for signature of the treaty.[5]

During the negotiations in Dublin, Uganda worked hard to achieve a strong treaty text. It argued for better victim assistance provisions, including a broad definition of victim that includes families and communities.[6] Uganda opposed a transition period before obligations would take effect.[7] At the conclusion, Uganda said it was satisfied with the text and joined the consensus adoption.[8]

On 29–30 September 2008, Uganda hosted the Kampala Conference on the Convention on Cluster Munitions, a regional meeting attended by representatives of 42 African governments. At the opening plenary the chair of the meeting, Uganda’s Minister for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees Tarsis Bazana Kabwegyere read a statement on behalf of President Museveni announcing the government’s intent to sign the convention in Oslo. The outcome document from the conference, the Kampala Action Plan, urged all African states to sign and “take all necessary measures to ratify the convention as soon as possible.”[9] During the conference, 29 countries publicly announced they would sign while several more privately indicated they were likely to be in Oslo to sign the convention.[10]

More than 80 campaigners from 26 countries, including Ethiopian cluster munition survivors, participated in the Kampala conference under the banner “Africa Unite: Ban Cluster Bombs.” In the lead-up to the conference, the Ugandan NGO People with Disabilities convened a parliamentary workshop to secure Ugandan support for the cluster munition ban. On 28 September, the Ugandan Landmine Survivors Association collected hundreds of signatures in support of the People’s Treaty petition at a special concert against cluster munitions featuring local musicians. On 30 September, the CMC convened a forum with parliamentarians from Burundi, Djibouti, Ghana, Mali, Malawi, Senegal, Seychelles, Tanzania, and Uganda.[11]

Upon signing the convention in Oslo, Uganda’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs in charge of International Cooperation, Okello Henry Oryem, described the convention as “strong and comprehensive” and stressed the need for its universalization.[12]

Use, Stockpiling, Production, and Transfer

Deminers in the northern district of Gulu have found RBK-250/275 cluster bombs and AO-1SCh submunitions that are typically contained in RBK bombs.[13] The cluster munitions were used in the fighting in northern Uganda between the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and the Uganda People’s Defence Forces. It is uncertain who used the cluster munitions, or precisely when, or how many. According to the Association of Volunteers in International Service (AVSI), cluster munitions were responsible for approximately 40 civilian casualties in Uganda between 1986 and 2006.[14]

On several occasions in 2008, Uganda denied that its armed forces have used cluster munitions and said the LRA was responsible.[15] Uganda has acknowledged having a stockpile of cluster bombs.[16] It pledged to destroy its stockpile during the Belgrade conference in October 2007. Uganda told delegates it was not interested in producing, stockpiling, or transferring the weapon.[17] Uganda has not subsequently commented on whether any destruction has taken place.

[1] Statement of Uganda, Lima Conference on Cluster Munitions, 24 May 2007. Notes by CMC/ WILPF.

[2] CMC, “Report on the Belgrade Conference of Countries Affected by Cluster Munitions, 3–4 October 2007,” www.stopclustermunitions.org.

[3] Statement of Uganda, Vienna Conference on Cluster Munitions, 5 December 2007. Notes by CMC/WILPF.

[4] Livingstone Declaration, Livingstone Conference on Cluster Munitions, 1 April 2008.

[5] CMC, “Report on the Livingstone Conference on Cluster Munitions, 31 March and 1 April 2008,” www.stopclustermunitions.org.

[6] Summary Record of the Committee of the Whole, Second Session: 20 May 2008, Dublin Diplomatic Conference on Cluster Munitions, CCM/CW/SR/2, 18 June 2008.

[7] Summary Record of the Committee of the Whole, Eighth Session: 23 May 2008, Dublin Diplomatic Conference, CCM/CW/SR/8, 18 June 2008.

[8] Summary Record of the Committee of the Whole, Sixteenth Session: 28 May 2008, Dublin Diplomatic Conference, CCM/CW/SR/16, 18 June 2008.

[9] CMC, “Report on the Kampala Conference on the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” 30 September 2008, www.stopclustermunitions.org; and Kampala Action Plan, Kampala Conference, 30 September 2008.

[10] CMC, “Report on the Kampala Conference on the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” 30 September 2008, www.stopclustermunitions.org. See also the conference website: www.clustermunitionskampala.ug.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Statement by Okello Henry Oryem, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Convention on Cluster Munitions Signing Conference, Oslo, 3 December 2008. Notes by Landmine Action.

[13] Photographs and information provided to Human Rights Watch by UNDP; and CMC, “Africa and the Oslo Process to Ban Cluster Munitions,” Prepared by Human Rights Watch, September 2008, www.stopclustermunitions.org. These cluster bombs and submunitions are likely of Soviet/Russian origin.

[14] AVSI, “Gulu District Landmine/ERW Victims Survey Report,” May 2006, pp. 13–22, www.avsi.org; and ICBL, “Uganda,” Landmine Monitor Report 2006 (Canada: Mines Action Canada, 2006), www.icbl.org/lm.

[15] “Uganda: Landmine Survivors Welcome Ban On Cluster Bombs,” IRIN (Gulu), 4 June 2008, allafrica.com; and Paul Amoru, “Cluster bombs conference on,” Daily Monitor, 29 September 2008, www.monitor.co.ug.

[16] Statement by Amb. Cissy Taliwaku, Deputy Head of Mission, Permanent Mission of Uganda to the UN in Geneva, Belgrade Conference of Countries Affected by Cluster Munitions, 4 October 2007. Notes by CMC.

[17] CMC, “Report on the Belgrade Conference of Countries Affected by Cluster Munitions, 3–4 October 2007,” www.stopclustermunitions.org.