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The Socialist Republic of Vietnam has not signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions. It is not party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons.

Vietnam is not believed to have ever used, produced, stockpiled, or transferred cluster munitions. However, Vietnam remains extensively affected by the widespread use of cluster munitions by the United States in the 1960s and 1970s. This contamination continues to claim lives and require extensive clearance operations.

While Vietnam did not attend the initial Oslo Process meeting in February 2007 or the second gathering in Lima, it participated in the Belgrade conference for affected states in October 2007, and the other two international conferences to develop the convention text in Vienna and Wellington.[1]

During the Wellington conference, Vietnam stated that “having suffered from warfare (with much damage done by cluster munitions), Viet Nam shares the humanitarian concerns of the international community over the effects of cluster munitions, and supports international efforts to help victims of cluster munitions and assist countries in their endeavours to recover from the damage caused by cluster munitions and to foster social and economic development. Viet Nam takes note of the goodwill and the spirit of humanity with which states and international organizations are working towards an international instrument that regulates this particular weapon. Viet Nam believes that, as any other international treaty on disarmament, the development of such an instrument should involve a broad range of countries and take into account the specific characters as well as the legitimate needs to manufacture, import and retain conventional weapons for self-defence and security purposes of each state.”[2]

Vietnam attended the formal negotiations of the convention in Dublin in May 2008 as an observer. During the conference, Vietnam emphasized that 30 years after cluster munitions were dropped on its territory the Vietnamese people were still suffering, and it called on international donors to help end the suffering.[3] As an observer, it did not join 107 states in the consensus adoption of the convention text. In October 2008, Vietnam attended the regional conference hosted by Lao PDR to promote signature of the convention.

On 27–28 October 2008, the first national workshop on cluster munitions was hosted in Hanoi by the Landmine Working Group of the VUFO-NGO Resource Center Vietnam, the Ho Chi Minh City Department of External Relations, and Landmine Survivors Network-Vietnam. It included extensive participation by Vietnamese officials from a variety of departments and ministries concerned with explosive remnants of war issues.[4]

Vietnam attended the signing conference in Oslo in December as an observer, but did not make a statement.

During the Oslo Process, Landmine Survivors Network-Vietnam, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, and Vietnam Assistance for the Handicapped conducted numerous campaign activities to urge the Vietnamese government to sign the convention.[5] Vietnamese cluster munition survivor Pham Quy Thi was a strong campaigner as part of the “Ban Advocates,” an initiative of Handicap International Belgium which brought together individuals affected by cluster munitions to raise awareness on cluster munitions and promote the convention.[6]

[1] Vietnam did not endorse the Wellington Declaration which would have indicated its intention to participate fully in the Dublin negotiations on the basis of the draft Wellington text.

[2] Statement of Vietnam, Wellington Conference on Cluster Munitions, 21 February 2008.

[3] Statement of Vietnam, Committee of the Whole, Dublin Diplomatic Conference on Cluster Munitions, 28 May 2008. Notes by Landmine Action.

[4] CMC, “Global Week of Action to Ban Cluster Bombs, 27 October – 2 November 2008,” www.stopclustermunitions.org. VUFO is the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organizations, and the VUFO-NGO Resource Center was established in 1993 to serve the community of international NGOs working in Vietnam and their Vietnamese partner institutions.

[5] OneWorld, “Vietnam Landmine Survivors Urge Cluster Bomb Ban,” 5 September 2008, us.oneworld.net.

[6] Stephanie Castanie and Pham Quy Thi, “My story, by Pham Quy Thi,” 21 May 2008, The Ban Advocates Blog, blog.banadvocates.org.